At 9:04 am, on December 6, 1917, Halifax weathered a devastating explosion. A wartime city (equilibrium) endured a devastating explosion (disruption), is rescued and re-imagined (resolution) and rose anew (new equilibrium). From an experiential graphic design perspective, this project presented an opportunity to explore notions of the narrative.
The challenge was working with a phased implementation that would not see the entire plan implemented at once. For the most part, work focused on the pre-explosion and aftermath of the event, expressed through form, text, material and sequencing of experiences.
The park is a memorial rather than a didactic space. The installations are large and powerful but subtle in message, to let visitors freely contemplate the explosion at their own pace and in their own style. We wanted to offer a user experience that grows deeper with each visit, and that encourages people to ask questions and dig deeper. The second phase will remain less developed for the time being. It may be more didactic in nature than phase one, covering the larger sweep of history that Fort Needham has been witness to.
The stairs provided a unique opportunity to explore the narrative in space and time. Today’s park visitor stands in front a long staircase of 102 stairs and 10 landings. Cut from the risers is the word Richmond, visible in entirety from a single location. As the visitor climbs the stairs, the name slowly deteriorates until horizontal fragments of letterforms are all that is left, much like the Richmond community today. Like shards of shrapnel fallen from the sky, the weathering steel balustrades are placed like splinters embedded into the cement, evocative of the immediate after effects of the explosion. Many of the steel supports are punctured with names of businesses, churches and schools destroyed by the blast.
Ekistics Planning and Design (landscape architecture): Sandra Cooke, Sarah MacLean, Katherine Peck, Rob Leblanc
Form Media (EGD design): John deWolf, Sahisna Chitrakar, Natalia Ultremari, Adam Fine (interpretive planning)
Light Energy Production