The LED-lit Vermilion Sands temporary installation is a living canopy made from 260 pyramid-shaped modules covered in vegetation. Designed by Matthew Soules Architecture for a summer arts festival on West Vancouver's waterfront, the structure brings hydro-seeding and use of geotextile fabric to another level. Inspired by the title of JG Ballard's collection of short stories, the structure aims to combine the "artificial" with the "natural".
The installation, which won the Community Choice Prize at Prize at 2015 Core77 Design Awards, was populated with white clover and perennial grass grown in a nursery for thirty days. These plants were then suspended from a grid of aircraft cable on-site, forming an abstract axial structure that functions as a loggia-like entry to the art festival’s grounds and provides shade during the day. At night, the entire structure is illuminated by LED lights and creates dream-like atmosphere. The growth of the plants is enabled through the use of geotextile modular forms, while an integrated system of 150 misting nozzles provides the necessary irrigation.
In Ballard’s short stories, Vermillion Sands is a fully automated desert resort which produces magical phenomena such as living fashion and cloud sculptures, and the sculpture tries to mediate the disparity between artificial and natural. It paints a picture of a future populated with designs akin to those in Ballard’s stories, where sustainability plays a key role in the shaping of hybrid environments.