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The two mountain peaks, known widely as the Lions in the west coast British Columbia, were never called that name before the arrival of foreigners. In precolonial time, the Squamish Nation had named the peaks “Ch’ich’iyúy Elxwíkn” (translated as “Twin Sisters”) in remembrance of a peace treaty formed by rivalry nations, through intermarriage between two Squamish sisters and two Haida brothers. As the legend unfolded, the Great Transformers would eventually turn the sisters into the soaring landmarks for future generations to remember their act of bravery and selflessness.

Throughout history, storytelling through oral transmission has been an integral part of the life of First Nations. It plays an important role in the preservation of their cultural identity, traditional knowledge and collective memories. Mystic, wistful, gentle yet dignified, the story of the Twin Sisters was often retold by great orators including Chief Mathias Joe, who shared many ancient tales like this one with others. In response to the call for a public art at a neighborhood park, in the namesake of the Squamish chief, we explore the First Nation people’s profound connection with the land through the silent art form of sculpture.

 

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Commissioned by: City of North Vancouver
Designed by: FSOARK | Spacemakeplace
Constructed by: Toby’s Cycle Work
Photographed by: Imu Chan
Graphics by: Imu Chan | Maria Barroso

 

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Over the last ten thousand years, glaciers from the North Shore mountains have eroded what probably began as a crack in the ground into a deep valley. At a rate of less than a centimeter a year, the geological transformation that led to today’s Lynn Canyon embodies this persistent and incontestable force of Nature – astonishingly gradual, phenomenally powerful and infinitesimally nuanced.

Our proposal for the plaza design at Lynn Valley Village provides an architectural reference to this broader geological context. We superimpose onto the existing ground surface a new paving pattern, in doing so translating the embodied energy of glacial formation into a visual language that is familiar to kids and fresh to adults. From the existing physical geometries and alignments, we have extracted a flow pattern that falls down the back wall, meanders between large pavement slabs, springs up to form benches, and cascades down stairs. The simple, abstract palette offers multiple non-prescriptive ways of engagements for all ages, and can be appreciated at ground level as well as from the elevated walkway above.

This project is a collaboration with Rebecca Bayer, with the assistance of Monica Lovato and Ray Sun.

 

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