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Celebration of Winter - Reflective Canvas

The objective of this two-month third year studio project was to design an installation highlighting something made more beautiful by the conditions of winter; a reflective canvas for users to enjoy the beauty, learning and recreation that winter in Ottawa offers. 


I focused on the humble snowflake. Not only does the combination of millions of snowflakes enveloping a landscape make it more beautiful, but each individual snowflake is beautiful in its own right. This canvas is an attempt to reflect the light, ethereal and sublime qualities of a snowflake through a dramatic shift in perspective.

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First, a site was chosen and analyzed: NCC Trail 27, Stony Swamp in Bell's Corner's Greenbelt. It is the most ecologically diverse protected area in the Ottawa Valley with over 40km of trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. It features a variety of habitats, such as a sugar maple forest, alvar clearings, and boggy wetlands with serene, light, and crisp qualities.

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Snowflake Collection & Preservation

During snowfall, real snowflakes from the site were collected and preserved using glass microscope slides and superglue. They were then examined and photographed under a microscope. 

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Resultant Snowflake Images

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Preliminary Ideation

The initial concepts were centred around camera obscura-style projections powered by the sun, but it would've been very difficult to accommodate the changing position of the sun and achieve a large enough projection. I also explored water magnification and using mirrors to reflect sections of the snowflakes. 

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Concept Iteration

A mirrored hallway was developed, reflecting 1/6th portions of each snowflake to give the illusion of walking under a giant snowfall. First, sketches and paper mockups were created to organize the layout, and then higher fidelity glass mirror and acetate prototypes were made and photographed in context.

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Final Design

The final design takes on a sleek and minimal form meant to blend into the forest and reflect the coldness of winter. The installation is intended to evoke a sense of infinity in the mirror's reflection and in the variations of snowflakes. It is meant to manipulate the viewer's sense of scale and lead them to discover a new level of beauty in snow they had never realized before. Lastly, it is meant to surprise and delight the users as they enter because the snowflakes are not revealed from the exterior. 

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Design Details

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Final Model

The final model was constructed of laser-cut and laser-etched clear and mirrored acrylic at 1:10 scale. 

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