As I walked onto the quad, surrounding me were round convex mirrors in a variety of sizes spaced strategically around the grounds. The public installation, entitled “Wa-Wa,” displays  life-size mirror models, revealed at David Wilson Quad at University College this past Thursday.

“Wa-Wa,” coined from the Japanese word “Wa,” meaning harmony, was designed by local architect company UUfie. The company was founded in 2009 by Eiri Ota and Irene Gardpoit.  “Wa-Wa” consists of 130 convex mirrors that transforms public areas into an immersive environment while aiming to remain harmonious to nature

UUfie won the Making Models competition, which asked architectural companies to develop a 1:1 proposal model that will add an artistic dimension to the University College’s quad.  Using nature as a theme in their work, UUfie experiments with experiences of transition through architecture.

“We are really happy and excited that we had this opportunity, and we want the piece to speak to people in  different ways, we really want it to be inclusive, transformative, and just be playful in the space” says Gardpoit.

The curator-in-residence at the Art Museum, Yan Wu, led the development of Making Models over the year. In relation to UUfie’s winning work she believes “[Wa-Wa] is a subtle gesture to the environment and all forms of life that inhabit the site.”

People milled around, looking into the mirrors to see resulting reflections. I found the art installation humble and with a subtle sophistication to it. The mirrors were displaced at varying levels on the ground resembling a trail.  It had a feeling of enhancement, and I think it could create innovative displacement of light when the sun comes out. Additionally, it would also have been interesting to see the convex mirrors placed in a more recognizable pattern, or have seen the mirrors in different geometric shapes for added interest.

Some other notable works included “Proposal” by Terrarea, who used rearrangements and juxtaposition of current objects on site to create relationships between site features, and reveal the conflicts between obstruction and permission. Another work was “Spatial Sonic Network” by Brady Peters and Mitchell Akiyama, that creates connectivity with sound by inserting parabolic sound reflectors that people could communicate with from far distances.

It was great to see how UUfie could transform the meeting place into an eye-catching public sphere. It also added a contemporary touch to the University of Toronto St George’s Campus historic architecture. This shows how art plays a key role in adding an extra dimension to an architectural space and accentuates a creative flair. I think it’s important to create vibrant and interactive designs for students to enjoy and to be inspired for more innovative ways for campus renovations.

“Wa-Wa” will be on display in the Sir Daniel Wilson Resident quad until November 25. The eight other models will be on display at the University of Toronto Art Museum until October 6.

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