Forest Lawn Lift Station - Public Artwork
Title of Artwork: Forest Lawn Lift Station
Artist: Sans façon, Lead artists for WATERSHED+
Site: Adjacent to the intersection of 19th Avenue and 26th Street S.E.
Public Art Budget: $236K
Commissioned by: Utilities and Environmental Protection
Capital Project: Forest Lawn Lift Station
Project Completion: 2015
Lift stations, a vital part of our wastewater system, are used throughout the city to lift wastewater from low-lying areas to higher areas where it can flow by gravity to one of our three wastewater treatment plants – in this case Bonnybrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. Having been in commission since the 1960s, the Forest Lawn Lift Station had reached the end of its lifecycle and capacity.
Enticed by the anonymous structures found throughout our urban landscape, WATERSHED+ lead artists Sans façon focused on the process of revealing. Part of a much larger system, the lift station provided an opportunity to dissect how people in urban neighbourhoods connect to and understand the importance of water in their daily lives.
Clad in perforated metal sheeting, the newly commissioned lift station features a map of LED bar lights that, while appearing to be abstract, are actually an exact representation to scale of the pipe system in the community. Connected to sensors that monitor the flow of wastewater in the pipes, the lights change colour based on flow levels. The map gives us a glimpse into the hidden part of our environment, allowing us to see a fragment of the complex 4,500-kilometre wastewater system that helps make it possible for us to all live in an urban setting.
Identified as a WATERSHED+ initiative, the Forest Lawn lift station offered a unique opportunity to integrate art within the thinking and design of a new lift station. While perhaps not an expected avenue through which to intrigue and engage the public, the Forest Lawn lift station demonstrates how these types of “hidden” utilities, when considered beyond their function, can create discussion and dialogue about the wider system of water infrastructure throughout the city.
This progressive collaboration between artists, engineers and architects has resulted in a lift station that not only provides critical increased sanitary capacity to a growing community but also reveals a fragment of our complex system.
Established in 2001, Calgary-based Sans façon works internationally on projects ranging from ephemeral performances and permanent pieces in public space, to developing and implementing strategies involving artists in the rethinking of specific places or situations. Their work aims to renew awareness and tempt interaction with the surroundings, and is developed in close collaboration with organizations and individuals.
Sans façon are the lead artists of The City’s WATERSHED+ program, which embeds artists and artistic practices within Utilities and Environmental Protection Department core activities and the Calgary watershed.