Located in a public park, Vaulted Willow is an ultra-lightweight architectural folly where form, structure, and ornamentation come together into a unified system. Acting as a destination landmark, the overall morphology offers programmatic possibilities for joyful play and instills the park's visitors with a sense of curiosity and discovery. The branching legs serves to distribute the weight while generating an engaging space. Its two-way gradient, morphs into a colorful Cheshire motif that invites its youthful visitors for a game of hide and seek. The colors, though originated in its immediate environment, were developed into a more artificial color scheme.
The stated goal for the artwork – articulated in the RFQ issued in 2011 was “providing incentive for park users to move throughout the space and provide interactivity.”
Borden Park has, for the past century, been a destination for families and individuals living in Edmonton. The recent redevelopment of the green space, which sits on 20 hectares in northeast Edmonton, has substantially improved user experience with the addition of a transitory, rotating sculpture exhibit, a new pavilion, plantings, and the placement of Vaulted Willow. Since its installation in 2014, the sculpture has become a destination artwork with families and individuals specifically visiting the park to “play” with the sculpture. In this way, Vaulted Willow is seamlessly integrated with the park redesign, and underscores the planners’ vision for an active, animated green space within the urban environment. The sculpture’s rich hues, complimenting the natural landscape, and sinuous shape have imbued the park with a distinct sense of “place” that reaches beyond Edmonton’s city limits. The artwork has been featured in numerous blog posts, design sites (including Designboom), and publications internationally (Home & Design Trends – a publication by Times of India).
The success of Vaulted Willow within its site is due in large part to the diligence and openness of MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY. The original concept for the artwork was chosen due to the unique structural concept and artistic vision behind it. The original maquette displayed multiple surfaces, and the final artwork was to be fabricated in EPS coated foam. The original coloration was inspired by classic Blue Willow pottery, hence the artwork’s name.
The project team and Edmonton Arts Council conservators raised concerns regarding the safety of the artwork. Answering concerns about the scalability, the artist reconceived the structure to minimize inappropriate access. Due to the extremes of temperature in Edmonton (anywhere from 30C to -30C), the original EPS coated foam is not suitable for long-term permanent artworks. The artist team worked with EAC conservator to choose a different option that would not only realize the work’s artistic potential, but also bring it in on budget. The crowning touch is the artwork’s coloration – Marc Fornes ensured that Edmonton’s parks planners had a wide range of options from which to choose, and that the final choice was harmonious with the overall aesthetic of Borden Park.
-Willow is comprised of 721 aluminum stripes, 14,043 connectors (1/4” aluminum rivets) and 60 epoxy concrete anchors.
-The aluminum (5052 type) is used in three different thicknesses: 1/8” (3mm) stripes, 1/4” (6mm) at the feet, and 1/2” (10mm) for the 24 base plates that are anchored to a concrete pad of 240 cubic feet.
-It took four days, and a crew of 4 to assemble the prefabricated parts.
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CODA: Collaboration of Design + Art
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Art matters. Attention to the details of our environment leads to love of place, which brings us to take responsibility for the spaces where we live and work. And by extension, the people with whom we live and work. And by extension, to our local communities, our cities, our nations, and our world.
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