There is nothing I love better then the incorporation of art into any design so needless to say when I saw Critical Mass in the gardens of a home designed by architect Chris Doray, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada, I couldn’t wait to write about it. The coastal site is a 66’x168’ view property that overlooks the North Shore Mountains in the distance and the garden – including this amazing sculpture – creates a visual connection between the home, its garden and the Pacific Northwest surroundings.
Critical Mass is a complex pattern of repeating modern elements and traditional sculpting techniques that are made from Corten Steel and Bronze and the contrasting elements of soft/ hard edged, geometric/ organic, contemporary/classical, create a statement that is in keeping with the surrounding elements both near and far.
Paul Sangha and his team worked in close collaboration with architect Chris Doray to create a statement within the various elements of the gardens in keeping with the home and its surroundings. Through the course of the creative process the site began to define itself.
The choice of an arc was chosen as a unifying element between the home’s coach house, the pool and the outdoor social zone with the arc traveling through a water element and the landscaping.
Once the arc was decided upon Vancouver artist David Robinson presented several ideas that would incorporate a sculptural layer to the arc and the waterscape with Critical Mass being the final result.
The arc is 30’x10’x16’ from which the Corten Steel fins rise up and determinably pushing through the fins is a bronze man with muscles tense and bulging.
Critical Mass went through numerous initial sketches to create a layout that would work with the scale of the home as well as with the surrounding garden and water elements.
Once the sketch was finalized a maquette was created for the team to visualize the concept on a smaller scale. I can only imagine the excitement in the room when it was unveiled. Even at this scale it’s a dramatic statement.
Once the maquette received its seal of approval, the next step was to create a full-scale Styrofoam mock up in situ to determine the best angle to space and collapse each of the Corten Steel fins and to establish the final weight of the installation.
To create the bronze man, Robinson first moulded him out of clay, making sure that each muscle was filled with tension and true to form. This life-sized clay model ensured the static tension of the figure within the fins would read correctly.
The centre of the arch, location of the figure and overall height of the installation where positioned to create the best viewing opportunities from the home’s interior. Originally designed to sit level with the ground, the window views determined that it needed to be raised 2’ off the ground.
By raising Critical Mass off of the ground, it offered an opportunity to create a surrounding water feature with partially submerged stepping stones that follow the line of the arc which would now also act as a plinth for the installation.
The complete multi disciplinary composition of architecture, sculpture and landscaping - both hard and soft - encompasses sight, scent, hearing, touch and imagination and I for one love it.
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