Friday’s tours of the 1920s underground water reservoir buried along Buffalo Bayou are already booked up, but the space will be open to the public Thursdays through Sundays from here on out. A 30-minute tour of the Cistern is $2 (except on Thursdays, when access is free), but reservations are required either way.
Can’t wait for the next open timeslots to scope out the space? Artist Donald Lipski’s Down Periscope is already up and running on the lawn above the reservoir, allowing digital spelunkers access to a light, a camera, and a microphone permanently installed in the space below. Off-site viewers can also queue up on the contraption’s website to take remote control of the installation for 5-minute intervals and swivel around in the underground chamber at will:
Blue scaffolding is currently set up for some last-minute work on hatches to the events lawn above:
The rectangular space is rimmed by a narrow walkway around the field of 25-ft columns; the reservoir has been retrofitted with emergency exits and safety railing:
Reflections on a few inches of water double the perceived height of the columns in places:
Here’s one of the original access hatches leading into the space:
Original inlet and outlet structures for water are also still visible from the walkway:
The interior of the reservoir is imprinted with the grain pattern of the wooden boards used as forms for the concrete:
That board pattern has been carried through into the winding passage newly created as a visitor entrance to the reservoir:
The pattern also shows up on the support columns of several patio structures on the events lawn above. The lawn contains several rows of sycamore trees, which are planted in a grid pattern lined up to match the Cistern’s column grid underground:
Also on the lawn is Down Periscope’s up-top on-site viewer, wrapped in a set of cylindrical cages (perhaps meant to echo the claustrophobia of actually being in a submarine).
Representatives from the Houston Arts Alliance say the goal is to eventually use the reservoir as a temporary art installation space, with a focus on site-specific pieces that play with light and sound.
- Houston Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern [Down Periscope]
- Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern Opening May 13! [Buffalo Bayou Partnership]
- Previously on Swamplot: The How and Why of Turning the Cistern Buried Along Buffalo Bayou Into a Split Level Public Bath House; Now Hiring Tour Guides for That Abandoned 1927 Cistern Buried Along Buffalo Bayou; Buffalo Bayou’s Abandoned Basement Now Ready To Be the Subject of Your Experiments; Flying Underground: Buffalo Bayou’s Abandoned Basement Skeleton in Creepy 3D!; Using Pictures To Picture Uses for Buffalo Bayou’s Basement, Poking Around in Buffalo Bayou’s Abandoned Basement
Photos: Swamplot inbox