Bompas & Parr creates algae grotto for Merge Festival

Bompas & Parr is set to unveil the world's first bioluminescent algae-based grotto on Friday (25 September), as part of Merge Festival on London's Southbank.

The Chamber of Wishes installation features bioluminescent algae
The Chamber of Wishes installation features bioluminescent algae

Bompas & Parr has teamed up with Dr Simon Park, senior lecturer in molecular biology at Surrey University, as well as Allies Morrison Architects, for the grotto, which forms part of a broader installation coined The Chamber of Wishes.

As visitors enter the installation they will experience a mist-like atmosphere and detect scents of the sea. They will also come into contact with a series of glass wishing bells filled with water containing the bioluminescent algae.

Individuals will be encouraged to ring the bells to create a phosphorescent shimmer, as well as make a wish. There will opportunities to share these wishes as they exit the chamber, and a docent will be on hand to read people's fortunes.  

The Chamber of Wishes installation is situated at 88 Borough High Street in London, where it will remain until 18 October. Entry is free, with tickets available via the Merge Festival website, however walk-ins are also welcome.

Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr said: "The grotto’s significance can by traced across mythologies and religions as an essential threshold space to otherworldly dimensions.

"For The Chamber of Wishes, we wanted to create a space that was equal parts foreboding and seductive - as if you were to enter a subterranean lair."

Park added: "Experienced at first-hand, bioluminescence is a remarkably powerful type of light with a unique ability to attract and engage the curious. The algae Pyrocystis is extraordinary in its ability to sense movement in water, and to convert this into a dazzling light display."

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