Project Description

Groundswell at Downsview Park

Groundswell is an integrated work of art embedded at several locations within the Stanley Greene Neighborhood of Downsview Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Downsview Park is internationally recognized as one of the largest and most significant repurposing of post industrial land, originally marked by the 1999 international design competition won by Bruce Mau and Rem Koolhaas. Downsview Park is home to both open spaces and a multitude of metropolitan level public amenities, and will be ringed by newly developed residential neighborhoods and employment centers. Groundswell constitutes the public art component of Stanley Greene, the first new neighborhood to be built as part of the overall Downsview Park repurposing effort. Groundswell is based on the seasonal interactions of earth and water, the curious swelling of the bedrock underlying Toronto, and the upwelling and interweaving of cultures in Toronto as a whole.

Groundswell is comprised of several elements including sculptural walls, bench slabs, and paving, all created as if emerging from the ground. The sculpted walls are comprised of layered and interwoven metal lattices which support the growth of vines and the trickling of cooling water in the warmer months, and the build-up of ice sheets in the winter. Aggregated together at the entrance to Downsview Park these walls form a threshold to the park while simultaneously creating a sense of enclosure. The sculpted metal lattices blend a range of abstracted patterns that subtly reference textile and tilework from the numerous cultures that live in the area. This contemporary filigree of intermixing cultural patterns with the upwelling of water and the lattice of vines is symbolic of both the mingling of diversity and it’s rooting in a place. The reflection of sunlight and the complexity of shadows within and around these pieces will vary over the course of the year adding another layer of interplay between these patterns.

Counterpart to the cultural groundswell, the project plays off of the documented swelling of Toronto’s shale bedrock as well as some of the minerals found in the region. Sculpted slab benches surface from the ground as if through the swelling of the earth, their immense weight supported by an unseen base. Sculpted benches, sculpted wall bases, and paving incorporate various patterns including reliefs based on mineral formations from the region. These reliefs, such as one based on fluorite, are cast into the sculpted concrete pieces with the intention of surfacing otherwise buried complex natural formations and patterns. In this way, the swelling of the ground exposes these patterns and intermingles them with the impressions of the metal lattices. The central water and ice wall as the focal point of the project also relates back to this swelling, as the shale bedrock will not swell without the presence of water.

The forms, patterns, and concepts herein are the schematic level development of this concept which will be refined over the course of the project.

Lead Artist: Michael Singer
Michael Singer Studio Team: Jonathan Fogelson and Jason Bregman
Client/Owner: Canada Lands Company Société Immobilière du Canada
Public Art Masterplan and Consulting: Andrew Davies Public Art Consulting
Engineering: Morrison Hershfield

Groundswell at Downsview Park