Calgary’s Chinook ARC is an interactive & immersive public art installation


The Chinook ARC is an interactive, immersive public art installation boasting bio-luminescent Steampunk details. In Calgary we have this weather phenomenon known as a Chinook Arch. Similar to France’s Zephyr or California’s currently trending Pineapple Express weather system. Alberta’s weather arch however has the ability to change temperatures by as much as 45 degrees Celsius overnight causing a run on windshield washer fluid, Motrin and patio time at los Ship & Anchor. And recently the City of Calgary, looking to up its apathetic inner city art quotient, introduced a new piece of interactive public art named ironically enough, the Chinook ARC.

Located at the corner of 12th Avenue SW and 9th Street the Chinook ARC is designed to emote dual personalities depending on the time of day. In daylight hours the oversized wavey donut with the opaque finish appears to be no more than a poorly executed, half-finished art piece. However at night the transparent, wavy alien donut transforms into an interactive installation.

Calgary’s Chinook ARC is an interactive & immersive public art installation

Although it may look simple and mundane from initial glances, the ARC is actually a complex interactive piece. In the middle of the ARC users are encouraged to press the ‘button’. When the button is pressed 48 hidden sensors are activated. These sensors are connected to the ARC’s 48 LED lights strategically placed throughout the project. The sensors then interpret these movements – whether it’s waving hands or playing an iPhone clip – and translates them into random lighting and LED colours onto the sculpture’s opaque, bolted surfaces.

With its altering, all encompassing light show and sound deprivation, once inside you almost feel like you’ve been transported to the inside of bio-luminescent Steampunk inspired worm. A transparent view into the project’s inner design is provided as the lighting silhouettes steel framing.

Calgary's Chinook ARC
Calgary’s Chinook ARC is an interactive & immersive public art installation

Created in accordance with creative direction from the City, the ARC’s designers, Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock from ‘Creative Machine‘ describe the project as, “…an interactive, illuminated sculpture that reflects our impressions of the Beltline neighborhood as a well defined, confident and vibrant community. The form draws inspiration from the historic Beltline Streetcar loop that once encircled the neighborhood, as well as the Chinook arch phenomenon that periodically blankets the sky. These two identifying boundaries inspired the crisp edges and rounded curves seen in the work. The enclosed space within the sculpture frames the sky and becomes an immersive color environment in the evening.”

Best to wait until nightfall to experience the Chinook ARC to fully appreciate its unique illuminational abilities. Video of the ARC in action can be found on the TubeYou video right about here

Source: City of Calgary

Angus Mackenzie

Canadian born automotive & architectural photographer. elemente magazine was born in 2006 as a Canadian national design publication . It remains as an online entity.

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