Gesamtkunstwerk - a curated exhibition on Vancouver architecture and city-building (PHOTOS)

Dec 19 2017, 10:03 am

You may not be able to say it, but Gesamtkunstwerk (pronounced ‘guess-amt-kunst-verk’) is best defined as the world through “total design” or  “life as a total work of art”.

The integration of all the creative arts and scales of design. The German word was coined in the 1820’s and popularized by composer Richard Wagner.

The exhibit opens Saturday March 22 and will stay open until May 18, 2014. Admission is free-of-charge and will offer patrons an opportunity to explore the detailed plans for the site surrounding the Granville Street Bridge. Along with sketches and textile samples, the exhibit features scale models, videos, and guided, audio tours.


Along with the multi-media elements, a large amount of effort has been put into planning the future of Vancouver’s architectural image on the world stage. While Vancouver has many unique buildings, the thing that is lacking is moments, according to Ian Gillespie, President of Westbank Project. Creating public spaces that offer an opportunity for public interaction and engagement with art is truly what will set the city apart.

The Gesamtkunstwerk exhibition is located at 1460 Howe Street in the renovated storage building where Vancouver House will be developed. Open Monday to Sunday 11am – 5pm daily.



Highlights of the exhibit include:

  • Plan 56 – a never before seen pencil sketch made in 1955 by the late visionary architect and Vancouverite, Arthur Erickson, imagining a ‘futuristic’ Vancouver.

Image: Gesamtkunstwerk

  • Rodney Graham’s Spinning Chandelier Model – A 4 x 6 metre kinetic faux-crystal public art sculpture to be suspended from the underside of the Granville Street Bridge as part of Vancouver House. The chandelier shown is schematic form without detail.

Image: Gesamtkunstwerk

  • Light Boxes under the Granville Street Bridge – a second installment of commissioned public art, will feature colour photographic transparencies. This piece is in collaboration with students at Emily Carr.

Image: Gesamtkunstwerk

  • Vancouver House Model – a scale model of the development slated for completion in 2018.





“Long-term commitments to sustainability and the integration of art into innovative architecture, and now the re-imagining of Vancouver’s energy infrastructure have compelled us towards thinking about our projects as more than just buildings, but rather, opportunities to shape the entire build-out of the city.”

– Ian Gillespie








Feature Image and Photography: Angie Holubowich @angholu

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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