July 27, 2016



Los Angeles-based architecture firm wHY and Argentinian conceptual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, have recently collaborated together to design a temporary structure for CURRENT: LA Public Art Biennial entitled, “Waterfall Pavilion”. Enjoying its inaugural year, CURRENT is a citywide cultural event, which features designs that focus on issues affecting Los Angeles and aim to inspire and instigate civic discourse. CURRENT LA has re-envisioned the international biennial, by having all featured art set in outdoor locations. CURRENT believes this “democratizes the way people access art”, but more uniquely, forces Los Angelenos to leave their neighborhoods and explore other parts of the city.

“Waterfall Pavilion” can be found in the Sepulveda Basin, along the Lake Balboa Hiking Trail. Placed at the section where water from Lake Balboa flows into the Los Angeles River via waterfall, “Waterfall Pavilion” is a timber-frame open pavilion which hosts weekly events that center on public interaction with the LA River. It is a structure that is a welcoming space for meditation, relaxation and creativity. The project’s artist, Tiravanija, hopes the pavilion will also bring Los Angelenos closer to the LA River, resulting in a critical ‘juncture’ between people and place. As he explains, “I am interested in the potentiality of a terrain that is located in the exchanges between the urban fabric, its users, and the wider context, and in the constant reformulation of this relation of exchange…For CURRENT:LA I propose Waterfall Pavilion, a relational space that socializes and activates this otherwise forgotten area”.

Indeed, for too long the LA River has been a forgotten, unloved space. As this year’s biennial theme is ‘Water’, “Waterfall Pavilion” addresses Los Angelenos’ abandonment of the LA River, but also offers ways in which to provide it with loving care. For example, “Waterfall Pavilion” features a water purification wagon. In collaboration with non-profit Water One World Solutions, wHY architects developed a ‘water purification system which allows the non-potable water from the river to be reclaimed, purified and publicly consumed’.

“Waterfall Pavilion” is a place where one can kick back and relax, fish, meditate, and take part in the diverse array of free programs ranging from medicinal nature walks to plein-air painting. This simple design acts as a connecting point for those who believe architecture can and should be accessible to the lay person. As wHY founder  Kulapat Yantrasast explains,  “Architecture has become a very difficult thing for people to understand: it has actually become kind of self obsessed and not involving regular people as much. Our architecture is trying to get back to connecting with life”.

Indeed, “Water Pavilion” is for the ‘regular’ person. Its design is modest, unpretentious and welcoming. The meandering stone walkway that leads to the pavilion encourages the visitor to linger, and appreciate the environment around them. In such a fast-paced city, it is such spaces like “Waterfall Pavilion” that demonstrate that nature is an essential healing force, and it is through such thoughtful architectural design, that is critical in helping us remember that.

The pavilion is open every day till the biennial’s conclusion on August 14 from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm.

If you would like to know more about CURRENT: LA please visit their website at currentla.org.


– Zanny Jacobsen, A+D Intern
– Photo Credit: Photo by Panic Studio LA, courtesy of City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). Artwork commissioned by DCA for CURRENT:LA Water. Image © [Rirkrit Tiravanija 2016] 
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