Sky’s the limit with Saskatoon installation

Dream dreams big with project that feels like home

When representatives at Dream Development Corp. first started planning the new community of Brighton in Saskatoon’s east end, they envisioned a place that felt like home. Perhaps that’s no surprise given that “home” is a theme that has always run deep for Saskatchewan’s largest land developer, which prides itself on “building better communities.”

Yet it took on added significance with Brighton given the development is expected to house 15,000 people as Saskatoon’s largest community when completed.

“Brighton is our flagship development, and we always knew we wanted to do something special – in this case, the public art that welcomed people into the community; something really unique that still maintained a connection with the natural environment,” says Jayden Schmiess, Manager, Land Development with Dream.

The pursuit for something special led Dream to a first-time collaboration with Heavy Industries on the appropriately titled “Coming Home” installation.

Situated in the roundabout at the cusp of Brighton Common, a showpiece street that functions as the main entrance into the community, the installation pays homage to the wetlands that are tied to the historic land.

The inspiration

It is also inspired by a 2017 initiative called the Birds of Brighton where Dream partnered with Ducks Unlimited and two local schools. During the project, Grade 5 & 6 students were brought into the community to learn more about the wetlands, culminating with the students building their own birdhouses.

“The moment I walked through the community and went into the information centre, it was just so obvious the connection with the wetlands,” says Landon Anholt, principal designer with FORT Architecture who Heavy Industries brought on board to develop the concept for Coming Home. “And the bird houses had such a beautiful story behind it. It was something we just had to run with.”

The installation itself is comprised of approximately half a dozen 40-foot-tall pillars in eight seemingly random groups, with a community of concrete bird houses (299, to be exact!) at various heights. Yet the individual structures are strategically positioned along the pillars so that when you step away and move around the piece, from a specific vantage point the collective piece forms a single bird in flight.

“We wanted to create an attachment to this piece where, initially, people might not know it’s a bird. Yet when they do discover it, it becomes something special to them. It becomes a whole different story for them,” says Anholt.

The intention was also for Coming Home to relate to the community’s residents on a person level, he adds.

“With bird houses, I think everyone can connect with that. They will have their own stories. Maybe it’s with that bird house you made in first grade. Or another moment from your childhood,” says Anholt. “I have my story as it relates to Coming Home. I hope everyone who looks at it can find their story, as well.”

Collaboration sparks creativity

Schmiess says working with both Heavy Industries and Anholt were natural fits for Dream.

“This was really something out of our wheelhouse. Plus, we entered this process not knowing what we wanted. So for Heavy to come in and help guide us along meant everything – to take a blank slate and really run with it. This wouldn’t have happened without them,” he says.

“And given Landon’s connection with the city, it was perfect. Having someone who understands creates a different dynamic.”

Schmiess also credits the uniqueness of Heavy Industries to the project’s overall success. Integrated early on through the company’s Plan-Build process, Heavy’s role extended far beyond just discovery and into curation of the creative, project development, production and installation.

“We didn’t know the scope of what Heavy did until we started going through it. And while we were naturally excited during the process, we were a bit worried as well. It’s a big investment,” says Schmiess.

“But it was hard not be impressed through every single step. And the first time I saw it, when the crane pulled away, I was like, ‘Wow! You guys nailed it.’”

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