HOPE FLOATS

Af­ter two years of plan­ning, the wheels are in mo­tion to cre­ate ‘The Rab­bit War­ren’, a float­ing venue for an artist-run fes­ti­val com­ing to Char­lot­te­town

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SALLY COLE sally.cole@The­Guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Sal­lyForth57

Af­ter two years of plan­ning, wheels are in mo­tion to cre­ate a float­ing venue for an artist-run fes­ti­val com­ing to Char­lot­te­town

Nine ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents from Dal­housie Uni­ver­sity have holed up in the for­mer Cana­dian Coast Guard ware­house on the Char­lot­te­town water­front for the last 10 days with one goal in mind – to cre­ate plans for a float­ing venue.

Like sci­en­tists work­ing in a clois­tered lab­o­ra­tory, they have ex­per­i­mented with var­i­ous build­ing ma­te­ri­als in their quest to de­sign and build a float­ing pav­il­ion that will be launched in the Char­lot­te­town Har­bour for Flotilla, a new artist-run fes­ti­val Sept. 21-24.

Out­side the ware­house, stu­dents Luca DiGre­go­rio and Kamille Manoy are test­ing out mod­els in a tank of wa­ter. Af­ter a suc­cess­ful launch, they use suc­tion tubes to change wa­ter lev­els to ex­plore how the crafts are af­fected by the chang­ing tides.

“Our next step is to test weights to see how we will an­chor them,” says DiGre­go­rio.

A fur­ther and safer dis­tance away, Maken­zie Ra­maden uses a blow­torch to ap­ply white shrink-wrap over a tri­an­gu­lar frame. Af­ter sev­eral tries he learns the best way to achieve his goal is by hold­ing the flame di­rectly un­der the frame. “This is fun,” he says. Watch­ing the en­thu­si­as­tic stu­dents trou­bleshoot the chal­lenges cre­ated by the project im­presses Josh Collins.

“One of the won­der­ful things about work­ing with artists is they are process and con­text aware, so they have lots of ques­tions. So the project it­self is a way of ex­plor­ing things,” says the ar­chi­tect who, with cu­ra­tor Zachary Gough, is lead for the project called “Rab­bit War­ren” be­ing pro­duced in part­ner­ship with the White Rab­bit Fes­ti­val in Econ­omy, N.S. When fin­ished, it will house 10 artists who are do­ing artist res­i­den­cies dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Un­like build­ing a struc­ture on solid ground, there are dif­fer­ent struc­tural con­sid­er­a­tions.

“We’re ask­ing ques­tions like

‘what does it mean to be on the wa­ter in terms of how you deal with the forces of the wind and the move­ment of the tides,” says Collins.

There are also so­cial con­sid­er­a­tions like how to cre­ate a sense of gath­er­ing and how to pro­vide as much ac­cess to the wa­ter as pos­si­ble. There are also en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues such as pro­vid­ing a sense of habi­tat as well as shade and pro­tec­tion from the wind. And, of course, there are the views.

“We’re in­ter­ested in know­ing what it will be like out there in the mid­dle of the day or at sun­set. Maybe it will light up at night.”

By the end of the 10day work­shop, the team has cre­ated a pat­tern to work from.

“At this point, we’re think­ing of bend­ing metal pipes that we’ve strapped to­gether (on an float­ing dock) and cov­er­ing them with a ma­te­rial, per­haps shrink wrap, to cre­ate a sense of in­clu­sion but also give trans­parency and light,” says Collins.

Us­ing a tem­plate they have de­signed, stu­dents will pre­fab­ri­cate the struc­ture that will get as­sem­bled in Septem­ber on an ex­ist­ing dock sys­tem, pro­vided by East Coast EZ Docks. The sys­tem will be in place for most of Septem­ber to al­low time for con­struc­tion, the two-week res­i­dency, con­fer­ence and tear down. EZ Docks will also han­dle in­stal­la­tion, main­te­nance and re­moval.

Watch­ing the ex­per­i­ments come to a pos­i­tive con­clu­sion pleases Becka Viau, Flotilla project man­ager.

“We’ve been work­ing on this for two years and to get to this point is amaz­ing. It’s a true tes­ta­ment to the hard work of the art com­mu­nity to have built the kind of re­la­tion­ships we have with mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the prov­ince for pulling off this to­tally awe­some and nec­es­sary in­ter­ven­tion with con­tem­po­rary art,” she says.

Collins agrees.

“In the end, the pav­il­ion will be a sur­prise be­cause the whole process is a sur­prise. And that’s what makes it so much fun.”

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dent Maken­zie Ra­maden, left, uses a blow­torch to ap­ply white shrink-wrap over a tri­an­gu­lar frame. At right, Luca DiGre­go­rio and Kamille Manoy test out mod­els of the Rab­bit War­ren dur­ing a 10-day work­shop in Char­lot­te­town.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Project lead Josh Collins, left, looks at some of the mod­els that stu­dents cre­ated for the Rab­bit War­ren, a float­ing venue that will be an­chored at the Char­lot­te­town Water­front as part of Flotilla, a new fes­ti­val run­ning Sept. 21-14 in Char­lot­te­town. From left are stu­dents Maken­zie Ra­maden, Natalie Steele and Minette Mur­phy. Miss­ing from the photo is cu­ra­tor Zachary Gough.

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