Seeds of Change: Floating Ballast Seed Garden

Client/ Bristol City Council - 2012

The floating ballast seed garden is an exciting living history project moored beneath Castle Park in Bristol. The concept of the project is to bring to light through horticulture, Bristol's maritime and trading past. 'Between 1680 and the early 1900’s ships’ ballast – earth, stones and gravel from trade boats from all over the world used to weigh down the vessel as it docked- was offloaded into the river at Bristol. This ballast contained the seeds of plants from wherever the ship had sailed'.

Eudaimon were asked by Bristol City Council to design the off grid power, lighting and irrigation system for the floating garden and were given just a few short weeks to turn it around before the Olympics!

Within minutes of beginning the design process it was evident that even the needs of high efficiency LEDs across 50m and irrigation 90m2 were in complete excess of the power generating potential of a single PV and that some nifty electronics would be needed to make this commission a success. Eudaimon brought in the acclaimed lighting engineer Paul Ollett (inventor of the modern lighting desk) to collaborate on designing context aware and load reducing electronics that would enable the three main parts work seamlessly together. This included:

1. Reducing the power demand: by designing a custom 12v switch to reduce the brightness of the LEDs by 75% (from 4.3w/m to 1w/m)

2. Context aware automation: As the power produced by the solar panel drops at night fall this change in current informs our circuit of when to switch on the lights. This ensures the lights use energy between dawn and dusk only (changes significantly through the year)

3. British Summer Proofed: by shutting off the automated irrigation after 3mm of rainfall.

"Seeds of Change" is the overall title of an ongoing project by the Brazilian artist Maria Thereza Alves. The design of the floating garden has been developed by German designer Gitta Gschwendtner in close collaboration with the artist Maria Thereza Alves and Nick Wray of University of Bristol Botanic Garden; Lucy Empson, landscape architect (BCC), Arnolfini and Eudaimon.

Public Art

Published on September 30, 2012 by Eudaimon Design.