River Harp - CODAworx

River Harp


Client: City of Drammen

Location: Drammen, Norway

Completion date: 2009

Artwork budget: $360,000

Project Team


Arne Aggenat


Po Shu Wang

Living Lenses Artist Team


Louise Bertelsen

Living Lenses Artist Team

Public Art Agent

City of Drammen


The artwork converts a cable stay bridge as a giant harp to play music to the local river spirit Nøkken, who lures folks to drowning with his beautiful music. The music plays through two giant Helmholz resonator sculptures at opposite banks of the river. And an environmental liquid dynamo setup after Michael Faraday's experiment over the Waterloo bridge, for eavesdropping on Nøkken. The public has to complete the circuit using his or her conductive self in order to hear the sound of jostling water molecules in Drammenselva.


Without the integration, neither concept or implementation of the artwork would have been possible, and the bridge will not have become alive as a giant River Harp. Most importantly, it allows the full environmental immersion of the community with the artwork and reconnect back to their legend.


The unusual Y-shaped cable stay pedestrian bridge model of architect Arne Aggenat jumped out during the site visit. It was not hard to envision it as a giant harp over the river as we were musing on the reconciliation with the water spirit Nøkken. Inspiration somehow came immediately that it should be the giant river harp that we can play music back to Nøkken once built. So the collaboration was smooth as the architect was totally receptive of letting us transforming bridge and embedding sensor motes along the underside of bridge and also providing the finite element analysis of the bridge to so I can figure out the fundamental frequency period of the bridge in order to construct the unique musical scale for the River Harp.

Additional Information

Its successfully revived a Nordic folk legend and have the community reconnecting with the River Spirit in a very tangible way. And it fulfill one of my team's philosophy of living by the world we dream of.