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Architecture students build artificial northern lights

For the last few months, a group of six second- and third-year Laurentian University School of Architecture students have been hard at work, preparing their entry for the Winter Stations Design Competition.
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A group of six second- and third-year Laurentian University School of Architecture students have been hard at work, preparing their entry for the Winter Stations Design Competition: a sculpture representing the northern lights. Photo supplied
For the last few months, a group of six second- and third-year Laurentian University School of Architecture students have been hard at work, preparing their entry for the Winter Stations Design Competition.

The international exhibition, which runs Feb. 15 to March 20, invites participants to transform lifeguard stations along Toronto's waterfront into art installations. This year's theme is "freeze-thaw."

Laurentian Architecture was one of four post-secondary institutions invited to participate in the competition.

Its entry is entitled "Aurora Borealis," and features three concentric aluminium rings, from which are draped nylon tubes.

Each tube is lit up by a solar-powered LED light, and is dyed with paint that changes colour based on temperature. The students went down to Toronto this week to install their entry.

Laurentian Architecture master lecturer Ted Wilson said the school gets its students to design and build items, including ice fishing huts, warming huts for the Ramsey Lake Skate Path, canoes and saunas.

“What this does is get us to a broader audience outside of Sudbury,” he said.

Wilson said he thinks Winter Stations' theme is perfect, given that Laurentian Architecture is based out of Northern Ontario.

The architecture school is looking at eventually installing Aurora Borealis on the roof of its new building, currently under construction on Elm Street.

Although the project has meant she hasn't gotten much sleep lately, third-year Laurentian Architecture student Danielle Castelien said she's enjoyed the experience.

“It was a great learning experience,” she said, adding that she had to do everything from sew to install lighting. “Having seen the finished project, I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Heidi Ulrichsen

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