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'Vermilion Sands' plant installation by architect Matthew Soules

Metro catches up with Soules to learn about his latest art installation.

plants, roof, art installation, Vermilion Sands, MATTHEW SOULES Architect Credit: Sandy Wang and Krista Jahnke

It may look like a novel use of ostrich egg cartons but this odd canopy in Vancouver is a nature-inspired artwork. “Vermilion Sands” by architect Matthew Soules features 260 pyramidal shapes replete with plant life. The shade-providing installation is on display as part of the Canadian city’s Harmony Arts Festival.

Metro catches up with Soules to learn about his latest art installation.

Metro: What inspired this upside-down vegetation?


Soules: I wanted to make something that would be a hybrid between the artificial and the natural. So the 3D geometric pattern of the pyramids is an artificial element, while the growing plant material is natural. We believe that mixing the artificial with the natural creates stimulating and exciting conditions for the 21st century.

It has visual effects, right?

At night the canopy is lit with LED lights that slowly change color over the course of the evening.

How long did it take to plant the installation?

Each pyramid is a module that grew in a nursery for one month prior to their installation. The overall project took about three months to design, fabricate and set up.

Credit: Sandy Wang and Krista  Jahnke Credit: Sandy Wang and Krista Jahnke
Can it grow upside down?

Yes, it can.

How can people make use of it?

The plant modules are hung about 12 feet (3.65 meters) above the ground. They create a canopy for people to walk and sit under. The pyramid forms provide shade from the hot summer sun. There is also an array of misting nozzles that keep the plants moist and also help cool the space under the canopy.

Are you planning to make this kind of organic installation in other countries?

Vermilion Sands, whose name comes from J.G. Ballard’s sci-fi short stories about futuristic designs, is a one-of-a-kind architectural creation for this site. There are currently no plans to do other installations elsewhere. But if someone invites us to do it elsewhere, we would love to!

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