Water Activated Street Murals Come To Life When It Rains

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 12 Jun 2019 13:33
Water Activated Street Murals Come To Life When It RainsProject Monsoon

It’s easy to feel down and a bit miserable when the weather is rubbish and it won’t stop raining but it looks like Seoul has the perfect solution to perk up its citizens when it’s all a bit doom and gloom.

In 2015, Pantone collaborated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s designers and art directors to bring art to Korea’s streets during the torrential monsoon season.


Project Monsoon saw the streets of Seoul painted with a hydrochronic paint which changes from transparent to opaque when it gets wet, revealing the colourful murals, inspired by South Korean culture, when it begins to rain.

Water Activated Street Murals Come To Life When It RainsProject Monsoon

Instead of the usual grey and damp streets, residents are treated to a visual feast of coloured whales, turtles and fish.

Designers were keen to capture East Asian culture which focuses on the river rand its elegant flow, also fitting in with the water flowing from the sky during the damp and dreary monsoon.


The artists wrote about their project in 2015:

Inspired by South Korea’s culture of emphasising the importance of the flow of rivers, the paintings utilise Korea’s topographical features that create a flow and puddle of rain water in every street to fill the streets with colour and life.

Water Activated Street Murals Come To Life When It RainsProject Monsoon

Amid the rainy periods, which can last up to three weeks with most people opting to stay indoors, the murals give residents a reason to look forward to monsoon seasons.


But Seoul isn’t the first city to dabble with art which is unveiled by art.

Peregrine Church, an artist from Seattle has unveiled a number of projects that become visible when it rains, as part of his Rainworks project.

He came up with the concept when he discovered superhydrophobic coating – a nanoscopic surface layer that repels water.


Church says he was intrigued after seeing a number of viral videos showing the substance and believed he would be able to create interesting patterns with light and dark contrasts on the pavements.

He went around his native Seattle and began spraying through stencils to create motivational messages for residents, that aren’t visible until the pavement becomes wet. With Seattle being known for its rainfall, Church says his art was ideal for the seaport city.

What a great way to brighten a damp day.

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Life, Art, rain, seattle, South Korea


School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  1. School of the Art Institute of Chicago

    D&AD Pantone: Project Monsoon