Visions of urban infrastructure #25in25: A Public Art Retrospective

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Mimicking the Art Deco-influenced electrical substations existing throughout Vancouver, and pointing back to earlier days of mass access to electricity, Cedric Bomford’s Substation Pavilion poses as the old in the heart of the new. Its careful detailing, tiered windows and bevelled mouldings harken back to a time when ornament was paramount to visions of urban infrastructure—lowly substations and grand pavilions alike.

Despite its affection for handcraft, the Art Deco movement was surprisingly economical in execution, standardizing its geometric and low-relief motifs for a variety of architectural applications. Just as design provided an opportunity to beautify one’s surroundings, it was understood that appearances were part and parcel of the urban experience: the city, a collection of visual details. But what of the invisible, subterranean systems that make it all possible?

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