LA LANTERNE reflects the potential of urban infrastructures—in this case a neighbourhood Hydro sub-station–to generate public spaces. As we approach these structures from a post-industrial perspective, we can explore transforming, re purposing and reintegrating them in a new cycle of functional urban regeneration. This is also a reflection of urban landscape and how landscape architecture can play a creative, central role in the re-thinking of the 21st century city. These are some of the issues raised by actual applications of Landscape Urbanism and a model for examining ecology in developed urban centres.
LA LANTERNE borders a high traffic commuter corridor, a municipal cycle path/green space, the Grand River (which bisects downtown Cambridge) and a secondary road two blocks from Cambridge Galleries. It is also an intersection of energy generation–water, hydro, cycling and walking, wind, natural light and shadow day and night. The installation itself encloses the yard of a small local Hydro station, transforming it into a metaphorical ‘lantern’. Brightly coloured material is woven into the chain-link fence surrounding the station. The woven pattern depicts shafts of light and text that will filter the sun during the day and are reflected by car headlights at night. The words used are of a poetic nature. They refer to both the historic and symbolic aspects of the site. It can be viewed at a glance by passing motorists, or contemplated at length by pedestrians and cyclists.
Founded in 1999 by Julie St.-Arnault and Micheline Clouard, Vlan Paysages is an award-winning landscape architecture firm specializing in multidisciplinary urban projects that include urban design, landscape analysis, master planning, and installations. They approach landscape with sensitivity to place and people, as well as natural and anthropological mechanisms. Sustainable design and strong conceptual themes imbue their work. Vlan Paysages has received numerous awards including a Governor General’s Award and won competitions in Canada, France and China – most recently for Marc-Favreau Library and Park, Montreal, and Trois-Rivières Amphitheatre.