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Sarah Bonnemaison
BSc (Concordia), BArch (Pratt), MSc(Arch) (MIT), PhD (UBC)


Recent Projects
The Ark (multimedia performance, 2013)
Warming hut for the 2011 Canada Games speed skating oval
For other projects, see the Filum / @Lab web site.

"Building a Gesture": Documentary on the design and construction of a tensile structure created by tracing a dancer's movements. Link to video (25 minutes; cookies must be enabled)

"Responsive Acoustic Ceiling": Link to video (one minute; cookies must be enabled)

"Les artisans du changement": Radio Canada's award winning documentary on the sustainable use of textiles. It is in four parts, the last part is on Sarah Bonnemaison's work. Link to video (cookies must be enabled)

Sarah Bonnemaison has studied architecture at Pratt Institute in New York City and M.I.T., developing a special interest in lightweight, collapsible structures and set design, which she pursued in many designs for dance and theatre groups in New York City, and in the architecture office of Bodo Rasch and Frei Otto in Stuttgart, Germany. Her work in tensile structures has extended to award-winning interior fabric installations and theatre sets as a free-lance designer.

Following the establishment of her company FILUM with Christine Macy, Sarah pursued her interest in the architecture of commemoration in the doctoral program in human geography at the University of British Columbia. She has taught lightweight structures and design at the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently an associate professor of architecture at Dalhousie University.

Teaching Areas
Architectural design, structures, architectural theory and criticism, landscape history and tourism.

Research and Design Interests
Lightweight and tensile structures. The architecture and temporary urbanism of festivals. Tourism and its effects on local cultures. Memory and the city.

Wood and Lightweight Structures
This research involves the design, manufacturing and testing of lightweight members for tensile structures. Funders: University/Industry Research & Development Partnership Program (InNOVAcorp), 1997. Industrial Research Assistance Program, 2000. Published: "Infinitely Curved: compound curvature in dry-laminated small diameter green timber," Reviewing the Tectonic: Architecture/ Technology/ Production (Proceedings from the ACSA East Central Regional Conference, Ann Arbor, MI, Fall 2000).

Nature and Architecture
This research is about transformations in the American conception of nature over the course of the twentieth century. It explores how these transformations were expressed in major public works and buildings, and will result in a book. Funders: "B" Grant in Architecture, Canada Council of the Arts, 1997. The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 1996. Published: "A Room of Her Own at the Old Faithful Inn: Gender and Architecture in Yellowstone National Park," Gendered Landscapes: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Past Place and Space, University Park, PA: The Center for Studies in Landscape History, Pennsylvania State University, 2000: 58-67.

Commemoration of the French Bicentennial
This doctoral dissertation (1989-95), "Allegories of Commemoration: the Bicentennial of the French Revolution in Paris," was an interdisciplinary work between art history and cultural geography which analysed historical and contemporary images of the French Revolution in the context of Paris. I investigated the way the state and its cultural ministry represented the history of the revolution through exhibits, parades and a number of new monuments which restructured the Parisian landscape. Published: "Moses/ Marianne parts the Red Sea: Allegories of Liberty in the Bicentennial of the French Revolution," Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 1998. "The Aesthetics and Politics of French Métissage," Ecumene 4/4 (1997): 435-457. "Spaces of Commemoration," Knowledge/Experience: the theory of space in Modern Architecture, ed. John Macarthur, Brisbane, Qld: Institute of Modern Art, 1993: 13-26. "The Space of Commemoration as a Window of Political Imagination: The French Bicentennial in Paris," Architecture and Culture, Ottawa: Carlton University, 1992: 185-190.

Architecture of Festivals
This research explores the ephemeral architecture and urbanism of traditional festivals, particularly the RamLila in India. Funder: Smithsonian Institution Special Foreign Currency Project, 1987. Published: "The Construction of a RamLila Effigy," Offramp 1:4 (1991), 10-11. "The RamLila in Ramnagar," Celebrations: Urban Spaces Transformed(Design Quarterly147), Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1990, 3-23.

Selected Design Projects
Site Interpretation
2001: TOWER TO INDUSTRY. Stellarton, NS.
This hundred foot high tower off the Trans Canada highway serves as a landmark for the Museum of Industry. Steel, cables, metal mesh and woven fiberoptics serve as a tribute to Nova Scotian industrial history. Client: Nova Scotia Museum.

This summer-long installation set up in the courtyard of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia was an armature for the display of community flags celebrating the millennium. The structure was made of green timber dry-laminated into continuous curvatures. The net membranes were minimal surfaces derived from soap film models. Client: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Merit Award, The Design Exchange. Published in The Architectural Review 209/1248 (Feb 2001), 32-33; and FiberArts 27/4 (Jan/Feb 2001), 17.

Design for a interpretive center, economic development center and a tourist infrastructure for a Black Loyalist historic site. Client: Black Loyalist Heritage Society. Published in "Giving Shape to Black History," The Beaver: Canada's Historical Magazine (Feb/ Mar 1999), 4.

Schematic design for a waterfront festival complex with two theatres and a wintergarden. Client: Peter Evans Development and WHW Architects.

Open competition for a memorial to the victims of the Montréal massacre. Sponsor: Capilano College Women's Monument Project. Special Mention.

Public space programming and schematic design for two plazas adjacent to a proposed downtown sports arena. Clients: Stadium Consultants International.

Festival Architecture
Portable booth for the display of posters and brochures in outdoor locations. Client: Atlantic Jazz Festival.

1993: VANCOUVER STEP MAGAZINE RELAUNCH. Cruise Ship Terminal, Vancouver.
Installation/ environments for an evening event promoting a city arts magazine. Conceptual design and direction of eight artists working with paint, sculpture, sound, light and performance. Clients: Elaine Smookler Productions and Vancouver Step magazine.

Site planning and festival architecture design for a city-sponsored commemoration recognizing the process of arrival and contact for the many cultural groups which make up British Columbia. Monumental arches of temporary scaffolding retell significant community events through photoarchival representations painted by community artists. Clients: Vancouver Folk Music Festival Society and City of Vancouver. Published in "Encounter with the past: design work for a post-colonial commemoration," Antipode 29/4 (Oct 1997).

Schematic design of a kit of parts for a province-wide summer festival included stages, towers, arches, kiosks, and signage at 70 indoor and outdoor venues. Clients: B.C. Year of Music Society and Young and Rubicam.

1990: CELEBRATION '90. Vancouver, BC.
Festival kit of parts for the third international gay athletic & cultural festival. Included booths, a banner system, direction finders, a triumphal arch and a fabric wall system. Client: Metropolitan Vancouver Athletic and Arts Association.

Tensile Structure
1996: FUJI PAVILION. Montréal, PQ.
Permanent special events pavilion and snack bar in the Botanical Garden of Montréal. Clients: Fuji Photo Film Canada Ltd. and Service des Parcs, Montréal. Published in Canadian Architect (June 2000); Common Ground: Contemporary Craft, Architecture and the Decorative Arts, Hull: Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Institute for Contemporary Canadian Craft, 1999; Métiers d'Art 10/2 (June 1997).

This set of projects involved the design and fabrication of ceiling canopies for Urban Expresso coffee bars in the Greater Vancouver area. The focus of the research was on development of a machined universal joint which post tensions the membranes and catenaries. The project also involved form-finding and pattern cutting of double-curved tension structures from physical models. Canopies were installed in downtown Vancouver, Lower Mainland cities and the Vancouver International Airport. The project received the Award of Design Excellence from the Industrial Fabrics Association International and was published in Fabrics and Architecture 6/1 (Jan/Feb 1994).

2000: "Connection, Reconnection, Interconnection: architecture and textile arts." Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.
1998: "Queer Looking, Queer Acting" Installation. Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.
1998: "Nature's Tailor: The Art and Science of Pattern-Cutting." California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco; and Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.
1998: "Canadian Practice: The Work of Sixteen Architects." Canada House and the Royal Institute of British Architects, London; Manifesto Architecture Festival, Edinburgh.
1997: "Object of the Garden." Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.
1996: "After Images: Representing the Absent Body in Art and Architecture." Technical University of Nova Scotia Architecture Gallery.
1994: "Green the City." Technical University of Nova Scotia Architecture Gallery.
1994-7: "Giving Voice: A Monument in Progress." Vancouver Art Gallery. Semi-finalists and finalists in the Women's Monument competition. Exhibited at Institute of Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum, 1995; The Nickle Arts Museum in Calgary, 1995; and Surrey Art Gallery, 1997.
1993: "Festival Of Women In Architecture." Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre, Vancouver.
1991: "Bearings II." Parsons School of Design, New York City.
1988: "Ramlila In Ramnagar." The Asian Center, University of British Columbia.