The involvement of creative practitioners in design teams for selected projects is not about designing an ‘object’ but rather, facilitating an exploration of the process and implications of a design.
The Fire Hydrant Drinking Fountains by Sans façon are an alternative design for providing drinking water at festivals and temporary events. They use the fountain as a means of exploring the social role of public fountains as gathering spaces, while making visible their connection to the unseen underground systems. The three designs – ‘Strangers’, ‘Family’ and ‘Group’ – invite different formations of gathering around water.
Often limited to a functional set up, these fountains create intrigue and incite questioning about how and where our water comes from; by designing the network of pipes that are at once visually stimulating and understandable, they invite the public to enjoy Calgary tap water.
Built by City of Calgary Fleet services fabrication shop, City of Calgary, the three fountains were installed during Canada Day celebrations throughout Calgary in 2012, and were enjoyed by thousands at the Calgary Stampede and the Calgary Folk Festival that same year. Since that time, the Fountains have been installed throughout the city at various locations.
In 2014, Fire Hydrant Drinking Fountains was included in Americans for the Arts Year in Review awards, given annually to outstanding public art projects across the US and Canada. Most recently they were recognized through a Vitality Award by Downtown Calgary.
Originally a gravel pit, the opportunity of the site at Bowmont East Gate Park was to combine the treatment of stormwater, for a large northwest Calgary drainage catchment, and the creation of a park as an amenity for Calgarians.
The involvement of Lead Artists began from day one as part of the design team. Watershed+ initiated an integrated collaborative process between different departments of the City of Calgary (UEP and Parks), consultants and Watershed+ Lead Artists, to expand the possibilities of the connection and understanding of the stormwater treatment system within the park design. The design followed two lines: the stormwater as a driver for habitat; and the stormwater treatment as a visible journey, where the artwork is embodied by the water’s movement and flow.
The stormwater treatment is looked on as an opportunity, to help define the park’s character and create a specific environment. Instead of an unapparent and visually disconnected treatment system, the journey of the stormwater throughout the park participates in the creation of different habitats. Open water, running water, marshland, riparian, wet meadows, etc: all at once the stormwater is creating habitat, being cleaned and expressing the process at work.
Sans façon, Watershed+ Lead Artists, in collaboration with AECOM and O2 Planning and Design. Bowmont East Gate Park Plan received Honourable Mention for Conceptual/Theoretical Urban Design Projects at the 2013 Mayors Urban Design Awards in Calgary, and a 2015 National Merit | Planning & Analysis from the Canadian Societ of Lanscape Architects.
Construction has started in summer 2015.
For more details on the Design Development Plan visit calgary.ca
On the surface, a lift station is a visible building containing a control room, a well with submersible pumps and valves that can be reached and maintained through a hatch. They are created to lift wastewater higher so that it can flow as needed to a treatment facility, and are located at the point where it is not practicable for the gravity fed system to go any deeper to function as a lift (sanitary or stormwater). They are representative of municipal management systems that are a critical part of everyday life.
The Lift Station project presented an opportunity to rethink the presence of these necessary structures in the community, to transform them into something that can be understood rather than avoided, to create intrigue about the urban infrastructure.
The Forest Lawn Lift station was chosen to be developed through Watershed+. An artist worked on the design team from the beginning of the design process. This thorough collaboration between artists, architects and engineers resulted in a lift station that not only features state-of-the-art technology, which provides increased sanitary capacity to northeast Calgary, but also integrates creativity in the rethinking of how infrastructure can become integral and thoughtfully designed elements of our urban realm, drawing attention to the role and complexity of our urban systems.
Behind the perforated cladding, an exact map of the pipes, connecting the neighbourhood to the lift station, is displayed on two sides of the building. Using LED lighting connected to the sensors that monitor the flow in the station’s pipes, the map changes colour and shows, in real time, the activity of the lift station.
The Forest Lawn Lift Station was launched in September 2015.
Artist: Sans façon; Architect: Marshall Tittemore Architects; Engineers: Associated Engineering / City of Calgary; Lighting consultant: Nemalux LED lighting
Similar to processes used by artistic practices, the Staff Laboratories will provide opportunities for UEP staff to take time out from their usual workplace in order to pursue objectives and creative thinking about issues that grow out of their daily work. Typically, people undertaking a Staff Laboratory period might work up the seed of an original project proposal, collaborate with other partners and business units or with an artist on a specific project, or draw up original designs for a particular part of the watershed system.
The first staff lab took place in October 2012, looking at Green Stormwater Infrastructure. One of the outcomes of the first staff lab was a collaboration with DTalks to develop and produce the international idea competition Lost Spaces.
The forums are a time for UEP staff to discuss and initiate alternative and innovative thinking about their practice. At these regular presentations staff from all UEP departments can bring ideas, approaches, systems and projects to the table for consideration and discussion, often initiated through a Laboratory.
The forums are intended to be open and creative sessions to develop and make space for further innovative and alternative thinking, support creative thinking and cross department/discipline discussion and working relationships.
WATERSHED+ Talks and Exhibitions are arranged around issues of common concern, not specifically around art, design or engineering, to foster cross-disciplinary discussions and presentations of innovative ideas related to watershed and watershed management from national and international examples.
The talks and Exhibition present to the public the breadth of water-related issues and projects.
– BEE KINGDOM, Microbes in glass
Glass artists collective Bee Kingdom worked for 6 months with lab technicians in Calgary’s water treatment facilities to interpret some of the micro-organisms they work with as models in hot sculpted glass. The residency period and the resulting work bring to light the often unthought-of hard work happening behind the scenes in water treatments, and the fascinating world of micro-biology present in the system.
This collaboration between Bee Kingdom and the City’s lab staff is part of Watershed+.
– WATER WORKS
An outdoor series of documentary shorts and experimental films about water projected in public spaces in Calgary.
In collaboration with Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers
Watershed+ residencies are a time for national and international creative practitioners working on issues relevant to the watershed in Calgary to develop, experiment and make new work.
These residencies are driven by a time of research for the artist to build understandings and respond to these issues, enabling imaginative responses and engagements with the watershed.
The residencies complement the initiatives where artists are part of design teams by presenting and facilitating the value of creative practitioner looking independently and through their practice at issues relevant to Calgary’s watershed and water management.
The first residency is a partnership between the Public Art Program, UEP and Ralph Klein Park. The call was released in June 2012 and the first residency started in October 2012.
The Library is a collection of projects, initiatives, precedents and programs related to Watershed+, internationally and across disciplines, as well as past and current projects under the Watershed+
It is a place to bring and research ideas, a place to share and be inspired, for conversation, a meeting space, a place of creativity.
The Library is currently in the Water Center.
A growing collection of relevant project is visible at watershedplus.tumblr.com