Documenting the Ark for Prince Edward Island
“Living lightly on the earth:” building an Ark for Prince Edward Island, 1974-76 is an exhibition, book and interactive website exploring the emergence of ecological architecture and social change for sustainability on Prince Edward Island in the 1970s.
Fall 2016 is the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the “Ark for Prince Edward Island.” This anniversary offers an opportunity to present the story of the Ark, and to examine the Ark’s role in inspiring change in ecological and architectural expectations and appetites in Island and Canadian society. The Ark’s opening day anchors a 2,000 square foot exhibition at the Confederation Centre of the Arts Art Gallery, which looks in detail at the eighteen months leading up to the opening (conception, design, construction) and at the year following the opening (a highly documented live-in experiment, but also a media and touristic spectacle). This three years in the life of the Ark forms the core for a set of explorations into early green architecture in Canada and elsewhere; the intermediate/alternative technology movement; PEI’s “small is beautiful” politics of the 1960s and 1970s; collaborations between youth counterculture and official culture; the public and professional reception; and the Ark legacy in architecture, alternative technology, government policy and actions, and public imagination.
The exhibition includes original drawings, period photographs, background materials and publications, audio-visual extracts from various films and international news reports, and ephemera including t-shirts and children’s books. Mock-ups of technological elements, component reconstructions and architectural models (up to full scale), analytic diagrams and interpretive panels were created for the exhibition, along with newly produced audio-visual material. The exhibition is designed to travel to design-oriented and public art galleries across Canada. The exhibition is accompanied by a colour-illustrated 100-page book, published by Dalhousie Architectural Press.
Accompanying the exhibition and book is this website containing basic resources, references and background materials related to the Ark. Recognizing the broad participation in the “Ark moment” by people from a variety of backgrounds, including many who visited as schoolchildren or tourists, the interactive website offers the opportunity for anyone to share stories, memories, photos, and ephemera.
The exhibition opens in October 2016 at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown, and runs until April 2017. The book is published by Dalhousie Architectural Press, October 2016.
Steven Mannell, Dalhousie University (curator)
Lukas Bergmark (assistant curator)
Megan Peck (research assistant)
David Bergmark & Ole Hammarlund, Solsearch Architects
Nancy Willis, New Alchemy Institute
Silva Stoyak, BGHJ Architects
Kevin Rice & Pan Wendt, Art Gallery of Prince Edward Island, Confederation Centre of the Arts
Michelangelo Sabatino & Susanne Marshall, Dalhousie Architectural Press
sm – 2016.07.25