Location: St. Vital Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Type: Public Art and Plaza
Year Complete: 2015
Client: Winnipeg Arts Council
Project Team: URBANINK, VUTA – Steel Fabricator and General Contractor
In Manitoba, fire has played an instrumental role in shaping where we live today. The tall-grass prairies that once occupied the southern part of the province were seas of flowing grasses; the windswept home to thousands of species of birds and mammals. Fire provided a means of regeneration and kept shrub and tree species from encroaching on the prairie by means of a 'controlled burn' - écobuage.
Écobuage is a public art project commissioned by the Winnipeg Arts Council. It is a celebration of the relationship between human and natural systems through the recognition of the importance of the phenomena of fire to the landscape we call home.
A six-metre tall weathering steel fireplace structure is the central feature of the plaza. Designed to complement the height of the adjacent park pavilion, the sculptural feature is composed of dynamic planes of steel, laser cut to depict a flickering flame, providing a view of the fire and smoke within. The height of the fireplace, in combination with the form which directs smoke above the tree tops, makes the sculpture a wayfinding tool for the park, drawing people into the plaza. Tyndall stone benches, weathered steel planters, wood storage bins and secondary BBQ pits delineate spaces within the plaza for multiple groups to assemble, while creating a visually and physically engaging outdoor space responding to the flow and functions of the newly designed pavilion.