We loved the 1970s’. Before financial melt-downs and melting glaciers, before the existential state of terrorism usurped the tyranny of states, before AIDS, Bird Flu and Facebook we had… …certainty. In the 70’s banks closed at four and we paid cash. In the 70’s we raised our families in the suburbs and men walked on the Moon. We drove to work each day, served our time and retired at the age of 55. We knew where we were going and we were getting there in a car.

The architecture of the 70’s, an era of absolutes, reflects the confidence of its time. In its material, expression and purpose, the Johnson Street parkade exudes the concrete certainty of the 1970’s that private automobiles are – and will always be – an inextricable ingredient of contemporary life.

While this prediction has been largely borne-out 40 years later, the social and environmental consequences of constructing cities around cars are coming to light in the form of North American cities struggling with urban blight, suburban alienation and the environmental consequences of the fossil fuel age. If the 1970s’ were a decade of certainty, we are surely living its opposite today.

BLUR is a high-relief, sculptural installation proposed for the City of Victoria’s Johnson Street parkade facade. A parasitic intervention, BLUR is superimposed on the rhythmic openings in the building facade and subverts the original architectural expression of the building.

west day

Constructed from flat metal bars, the individual louvers twist gradually along their length, opening to create subtle variations of depth, opacity and light penetration to the facade behind. Seen from the street, drivers and pedestrians will experience a bright, new metal facade gradually transforming from opaque to transparent as they pass. From within the garage the twisted shape of individual louvers will become apparent, reflecting daylight and casting variegated shadows into the parkade. At night, the illuminated openings in the parkade facade will express themselves, creating an interesting syncopation with the louvers.

BLUR is a dialog with the past. The subtle twist and spacing of louvers will result in an indistinct shape with a strong sense of horizontal motion. Like a spectre in peripheral vision, BLUR is an impression, contemporary ambiguity superimposed over 1970’s absolute.

interior montage

west night

Long-list proposal for a permanent public art commission – City of Victoria