But in this case, not only was the structure inspired by nature, its creation was almost a collaboration with the park itself, since the goal was to have it fit in with the surroundings, Manning says.
The Village Tower was constructed from reclaimed and repurposed materials (steel pipe and cedar Hydro poles), using principles of folk art, and “that’s an oppositional form of art,” he explains.
“When something happens, you react to it, so if you find a piece of wood with an interesting knot in it, you might enhance that or work around it or slide something over to make it work better. You have to be flexible.”
When designing the Festival Village, architects looked to the Fibonacci series, a numeric pattern found in both music and nature — i.e. in the interlocking spirals found in pine cones and sunflower heads.
The Village Tower, which measures seven metres in diameter at the base, nearly 14 metres at its highest point and has 13 (a Fibonacci number) posts anchored 4.5 metres into the ground, is a swirling extension of this sacred geometry.
It leans east, toward the main stage, recalling the park’s windswept grasses and trees. It resembles a teepee. Or a campfire. Or a sheaf of wheat, cupped hands, or flower petals — you decide.
Manning says the original intention was to build something that would have a practical use beyond being a festival landmark — say a toboggan tower — but park officials weren’t interested.
“So it became more of an art piece; something very open and evocative,” he says.
“One thing we were inspired by was the idea of discovery. Every time I go to the folk festival there are a few bands I’ve heard of, but I always discover something new. Then the whole workshop process often blends things in surprising ways,” Manning explains.
“We thought this tower could also be a source of discovery, and then people can read their own interpretations into it.”
The tower will also serve as a gallery for public art, capable of supporting temporary and longterm installations, Manning adds, while standing on its own as a landmark and a sonic sculpture.
Eventually, it will not only contain low-wattage lights to simulate a campfire’s inner glow, it will be equipped with sounding tubes, or even strings, making it, in effect, a playable musical instrument.