A Lesson Worth Repeating

Student competition during Harmony project illustrates Heavy’s unique approach to creative

Creativity breeds innovation – and in the case of Harmony, the master-planned community emerging west of Calgary, it led to a special public art installation born out of an extraordinary collaboration.

When Heavy Industries was brought on board by Qualico Communities and Bordeaux Developments to establish an anchor installation within the lakeside community’s second phase, the team knew right way they wanted to do something different.

“We had already been involved in a couple projects within Harmony at the time, so we had built up enough trust that they asked for something really outside of the box for this new installation,” says Connor Hayduk, Design Lead at Heavy Industries.

“We proposed something quite a bit different in that we’d put out a call to students for concepts for what this piece could be. The idea had been kicking around here at Heavy for some time, and it just ended up being the right fit for Harmony .”

Heavy co-ordinated with post-secondary schools such as Alberta University of the Arts, University of Calgary and SAIT during the call to emerging creatives, receiving submissions from a cross-section of disciplines. The team later shortlisted the applicants to four, and then assisted the finalists by helping refine their concepts into more formal proposals for the project stakeholders.

Those efforts culminated in final presentations, including visual representations and 3D maquettes – leading to the winning submission by Gordon Skilling, a Landscape Architecture major at the University of Calgary.

“Everyone did amazing work,” Hayduk says of the finalists’ work. “The concepts they came up with were great – so much so that the clients are looking for opportunities to use some of the other concepts in future projects within Harmony.”

Hayduk notes the integration of the project team early in the development allowed Heavy to implement its Plan-Build process into the project early on and better understand the vision and intent – in this case, embrace art in all of its forms. Further it led to the opportunity for a public art installation with purpose, as well as more efficient fabrication process.

“I’m extremely pleased with how the process went, and am so impressed with the unique concepts that the students came up with. In Gordon’s concept, we really ended up creating something that has never been done before. Hayduk says of the year-and-a-half process.

Looking back on the installation which was unveiled in summer 2019, Skilling says his intent was to evoke the themes of lifecycles. He notes the separate images of grass and water that bookend the work is meant to symbolize the past and future, while the two hands in the middle passing a flower is a way to link the past with the future.

“The grass waving in the wind represents the landscape and its history, while the idea of water and hydrology is what’s built into the very fabric of Harmony – the future,” he says. “And then what joins those two parts together in the middle is a human touch – hands transferring a flower from an older to younger generation.”

Hayduk adds the Plan-Build process also allowed Heavy to troubleshoot potential challenges beforehand – such as how to bend the steel in the way we wanted to during the fabrication stage.

Interestingly though, there was something no one could have planned for.

“It sings,” laughs Hayduk. “Once we had it installed, we discovered that when wind flows through the metal slats, it reverberates and creates a bit of a tune. While not intentional, it’s one of those neat little features that make it even more special.”

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