A landscape of reservoirs and roads

Desert Derby is a landscape of reservoirs and roads inspired by Southern California’s true nature as an engineered phenomenon in the desert.

At first glance, the twisting tracksin Desert Derby look like freeways. Take a closer look, and you will see a dam: a structure that stops a river’s flow. The big blue shape in the center represents a reservoir: a place for storing water. Desert Derby traces not only our roads, but also one of the most important other factors to shape our region: the feat of engineering that is the California aqueduct. We know where and how California’s system of freeways connects. What if Californians were just as aware of our water system? Would it change our relationship with water?

Southern California’s natural water supply can support 2 million people. However, over 23 million people can live here because of the California aqueduct, a 700-mile-long pipe that delivers water from Northern California to Southern California. Despite this amazing feat, Southern Californians know more about our freeways than they do our waterways.

Who Made This?

Roman De Salvo
1965, San Francisco, California
San Diego, California

Roman De Salvo often explores San Diego’s terrain by bicycle. It was while cycling that he had his Eureka moment: he realized that many of the undulating California roads he travels by bike exist in canyons carved by ancient rivers.