Winter City Design Competition winner, 'Infinito.'
Winter City Design Competition winner, 'Infinito.'

Feb. 18, 2022

Arts and engineering students install interactive art piece on Stephen Avenue

The tunnel, Infinito, is 1 of 2 winners of Calgary’s first Winter City Design Competition

Walking down Stephen Avenue Mall in downtown Calgary just got a little more interesting with the installation of Infinito, an interactive tunnel created by a group of students at the University of Calgary.

“The tunnel idea is based on a sci-fi type of concept,” says Bosco Chik, a third-year visual arts student in the Department of Art and Art History, Faculty of Arts, and one of five creators. “It's a time travel type of thing. People walk through a tunnel and they could travel in a faster speed. They catch up on the activities that they missed. They can socialize with their friends. It's like a meeting point for people to hang out and take photos and have fun.”

The interactive art piece is one of two winners of The City of Calgary’s inaugural Winter City Design Competition aimed at making Stephen Avenue a more welcome place to visit in the winter.

Infinito, in progress

Infinito, in progress.

The five students, three in the Department of Art and Art History and two from the Schulich School of Engineering, received $10,000 from the City to build the piece. “It feels great to win such a big competition,” says William Zhuang, who is also a third-year visual arts student.

“It's a great experience for us to design it and construct it and present it. We chose a site and then we identified all the things that we need to put into consideration when we're designing this.”

It took two months to build and three days to install the piece. As they were putting it together, the students received lots of positive comments. “As we're building it from day one, people that pass by are telling us it's beautiful and that we're doing a good job and they're excited to see it,” says Chik.

When they first learned about the competition last November, Chik wasn’t so sure about the tight, one-month deadline. “Initially I explained to William how we can’t do it because of all the technical difficulties and we're in school and there's so many other things going on,” says Chik.

“There was a lot of software to figure out and drawings to draft, but Karim convinced me. He's like, ‘We can do it.’ And then we just grabbed everyone together.”

Art students at Infinito installation

William Zhuang, left, and Bosco Chik.

The arts students, Chik, Christian Icuspit and Zhuang worked with engineering student Karim Kandil and recent engineering graduate Charlie Jiang. They worked together on the structural design, and the arts students worked on the architectural aesthetics, including the drawings.

“I designed the little tower and the mountain. William designed the flower and Christian designed the bear,” says Chik.

Infinito will be on Stephen Ave for the month of February.

“It feels like a one-time opportunity,” says Chik, “and we just took it.”

The Winter City Design Competition is a partnership between The City of Calgary and the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.