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Toronto-based duo Christine Leu and Alan Webb are known for their charming and playful installations that chart a distinctive path between art and architecture. Their latest mounting — Thermally Speaking — follows suit, mixing a sensitive and site-specific approach with interactive technology for an entirely singular experience.

For the 2019 edition of the all-night art crawl Nuit Blanche, LeuWebb Projects activated the facade of the Fort York Visitor Centre (by fellow Canadian practices Patkau Architects and Kearns Mancini Architects) in their home city’s West End. Using the inherent properties of the 100-metre-long stretch of channel glass at the building’s apex, the pair collaborated with a number of lighting designers to fit the nearly one-metre-wide cavity behind the facade with linear LEDs and PAR lamps.

“It is a social experience.”
Adelaide Testa, AZ Awards 2021 Juror

Working in tandem with a series of thermal imaging cameras located on the Visitor Centre’s ramp, these fixtures illuminated the five-metre-tall partitions on both the front and rear of the complex with an ever-changing choreography of rainbow hues typical of the infrared format. The resulting “shifting curtain of light” was continuously transformed alongside the meanderings of art-goers, from seven at night to seven the following morning, rendering them both “observers and subjects of observation,” according to the designers.

At times, outlines of human forms could be made out in the relayed images, while at others, an abstract gradient of colour created a luminous beacon. Though on view for only 12 hours, Thermally Speaking was a fleeting collision of elemental forces — heat and light, bodies and buildings — with lasting impact.

Team Christine Leu and Alan Webb (LeuWebb Projects); Paul Boken and Stephen Kaye (Mulvey & Banani Lighting); Sepideh Nabaee (Delta Light Canada) and Jesse Blonstein (Light Brigade)

Winner: Lighting Installations
People’s Choice: Lighting Installations
AZ Awards 2021 Winner: Thermally Speaking

Toronto-based duo Christine Leu and Alan Webb are known for their charming and playful installations that chart a distinctive path between art and architecture.

Explore more Award Winners

2017
Winner + People’s ChoiceLighting Installations
Location
Montreal, Canada
Firm
Cannon Design (Toronto, Canada) and NEUF Architect(e)s (Montreal, Canada)
2019
Award of MeritLighting Installations
Location
Toronto, Canada
Design
Castor Design, Canada
WinnerLighting Installations
Firm
Licht Kunst Licht, Staab Architekten, Berlin