Students win competition for Battle of Vimy Ridge commemorative fountain
Three Carleton University architecture students have won a national design competition for a water feature at the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park in France, commemorating the legacy of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Scott Normand, Kevin Complido, and Brendan Dyck are Master of Architecture thesis students at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism. “We are honoured to have the fountain selected and are very excited to see it built in such a hallowed space,” says Normand, 28.
The battle, which took place on April 9, 1917, is commonly highlighted as a turning point in Canadian history, where the four Canadian divisions fought together as a single fighting force for the first time. The event is often cited as the beginning of Canada’s evolution from dominion to an independent nation. More than 10,000 were killed and wounded.
In their project statement, Normand, Complido, 28, and Dyck, 26, said they intended a project that is “tranquil and thought-provoking, and for it to reinforce the dialogue of peace and remembrance.”
Commissioned by the Vimy Foundation and the Love Family Foundation, the water feature was planned as a central element in the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park since its initial design by Ottawa landscape architect Linda Dicaire. The park, which opened in 2018, complements the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, where visitors gather to reflect upon the legacy of those who served in the First World War.
Titled The Ridge: To Venerate A Buried History, the low circular fountain is to be installed at the heart of the park this summer and unveiled in the fall.
“What made The Ridge stand out from other designs was its use of echo chambers and agitators below the surface which reverberate the sound of flowing water to create a contemplative environment in the park,” said selection committee members Jon and Nancy Love.
Director Jill Stoner let students know about the opportunity last fall. “I’m delighted to have a team from our school win this opportunity,’ she said. “Their design reflects the visceral power of water to embody elemental connections between memory and landscape.”
“We came up with a rough concept very early and decided to follow through with it over the Christmas break,” explains Normand. “Our team is made up of three University of Manitoba graduates that all ended up together at Carleton for the MArch program. We were all familiar with each others’ style and work ethic, and we all understood the gravity of a project like this.”
The Student Design Competition was open to all 2019 Canadian four-year undergraduate and 2019 Canadian graduate students in Canadian universities in programs of architecture, landscape architecture, industrial design, and fine arts. It attracted six complete entries from four universities, which were adjudicated in a two-step jury process. The prize includes $5,000.
“As the water rises out of the fountain it encourages the idea of its interaction with this sacred ground and the landscape’s past,” says the Carleton team’s statement. “With the history and gravity of the earth now imbued within the water itself, it then filters across the gently sloping surface of the font and slowly slides towards the edge. The water then theoretically returns to the earth, dripping into the collection basin and making its way down agitating steps under the fountain towards collection.”
A second team from the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism was shortlisted for a project titled Peace Through Reflection. The Master of Architecture students are Luke McElcheran, Felix Mayer, Michelle Duong, and Vedad Haghighi.
The Love Family Foundation, of Toronto, is funding the winning project. The cost is not yet available.