Futuristic foliage: architect Matthew Soules melds the natural and modernist for Harmony Arts Festival installation

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      A quite-literally-cool art installation at the Harmony Arts Festival will let visitors catch some shade as they enter the West Vancouver site. 

      Architect Matthew Soules has constructed the lush canopy out of thousands of plants, but what's rad about the design is that instead of being wild and organic, it looks modernist and geometric. He's built the greenery into repeated pyramidal shapes to create a three-dimensional pattern.

      If that pattern reminds you of the pattern-making of influential West Coast modernist BC Binning, you'd be right. And perhaps there's no surprise there: Soules lives in the influential early West Coast modernist's famed house, a national historic site in West Vancouver and a veritable shrine to modernism. 

      Architecture and art buffs will want to check out the expansive work, a visual marvel suspended 20 feet in the air above the walkway between the Park Royal Beachside Patio and the Waterfront Lounge.

      Its title is Vermilion Sands, after a collection of sci-fi short stories by J.G. Ballard about futuristic design practices that hybridize technology with nature. And true, there's something strangley space-age about the greenery too.

      As for the Harvard-educated Soules, who's an assistant prof at the UBC School of Architecture, the progressive young architect has worked for everyone from that other West Coast icon, Arthur Erickson to Dutch star Rem Koolhaas. Significantly, he's also interned for New York and interned for I.M. Pei, the guy who designed the Louvre's glass pyramid--hmmm, another tie-in to Vermilion's repeated patterns?

      The work is a temporary, biodegradable piece of art, curated by the West Vancouver Museum for the festival, which runs from tomorrow (August 1) to August 10.