The Rain Amplifier by Matthijs la Roi Architects is a cedar-clad rain sculpture and stage, situated in the Catholic forest environment of Sint-Arnolduspark, Belgium. Located on a hill that acts as a natural amphitheatre, the stage is designed to host open-air performances where the dome acts as a sculptural backdrop.
The project is part of the ‘Contrei Live’ Arts trail which includes 16 land art interventions in the region of South West Flanders that invite visitors to reflect on the importance of water in the landscape. Sint-Arnolduspark was established at the end of the 19th century, after the occurrence of several miraculous healings on the site.
The healing powers of the site were attributed to a natural water spring in the park which was made available to the public through the creation of a fountain. This established the park as a pilgrimage destination. The water fountain is one of many historical objects that were built in the park, including Catholic chapels, artificial grotto structures, rustic cement bridges, a series of ponds and a cavalry cross.
The Rain Amplifier finds itself amidst this eclectic amalgamation of follies and water elements. The project provides a new focal point by attracting visitors to its performative function. At the same time, the rain effect is intended to encourage the visitor to reflect on their relation with rain and the role rain plays in society and nature.
In 2020, May and April have been the driest months in Belgium since 1833. As a predicted effect of climate change, both moments of extreme drought and extreme precipitation will be more common in Belgium in the near future. Geometrically the sculpture resembles a half dome with an intricate and expressive ornamental interior as a reference to Catholic architecture that exists in the park.
Within the dome, an artificial rain shower is produced through a network system of hidden interconnected tubes and nozzles. The amplification of the sound of the water is a result of the dome form, creating a dynamic soundscape to be experienced in its environment. Cedar is used as cladding because of its high water-resistant performance and the rich variety of colour tones of the different timber elements.
Rain Amplifier is a sculpture that provides the space to reflect on rain and our relation to it. It reminds us of its historical-cultural significance and the importance of addressing contemporary challenges related to climate change. It is a place to celebrate rain through the means of musical or theatrical performance.