The façades are essentially aluminum curtains hung from a steel structure. The architects spent months devising an aluminum extrusion that would reflect light to allow for projections from inside.

The façades are essentially aluminum curtains hung from a steel structure. The architects spent months devising an aluminum extrusion that would reflect light to allow for projections from inside.

Credit: James Brittain


The Exchange District, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is home to a host of structures dating back to the city’s early 20th-century heyday as a critical waypoint for the country’s grain trade. The town had a booming population and economy, and much of the activity was focused on what is now known as Old Market Square. What remains from those salad days is a collection of historic industrial buildings populated by an arts community, and the square has become a public green space that plays host to summer festivals, outdoor concerts, impromptu yoga classes, and even weddings. And now, at the center of all this is an aluminum mesh cube, 28 feet long, wide, and tall.

Pairs of the identical aluminum pieces were riveted together before being strung on aircraft cable. The pieces were then riveted to alternating pieces on each side, creating a stable, but flexible, mesh. The curtains can hang on all four sides (as seen here) to form a solid cube. On two sides, the mesh can be pulled back into the structure by inexpensive winches, forming canopies and revealing the stage.

Pairs of the identical aluminum pieces were riveted together before being strung on aircraft cable. The pieces were then riveted to alternating pieces on each side, creating a stable, but flexible, mesh. The curtains can hang on all four sides (as seen here) to form a solid cube. On two sides, the mesh can be pulled back into the structure by inexpensive winches, forming canopies and revealing the stage.

Credit: James Brittain

 

The work of local firm 5468796 Architecture, Old Market Square (OMS) Stage is the result of a city-funded design competition to replace an old bandshell, which was used as few as 15 times per year, with something that would better engage the urban environment. “One of our inspirations was the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey that travels through time and fascinates everyone,” says firm principal Sasa Radulovic. “We thought: ‘Can we create something that could emanate that kind of energy from within?’ and ‘How can we do that with music, sound, and light from within so that it becomes a player in the city?’ ”

The acoustics in the mesh structure required articulating the concrete core to project the sound toward audiences in the park. The core also houses a green room for performers. A benefit of the mesh is the dappled quality of light as it plays off the concrete inside. The result is what Radulovic calls a "chapel-like quality," and the space has, in fact, become a popular wedding venue.

The acoustics in the mesh structure required articulating the concrete core to project the sound toward audiences in the park. The core also houses a green room for performers. A benefit of the mesh is the dappled quality of light as it plays off the concrete inside. The result is what Radulovic calls a "chapel-like quality," and the space has, in fact, become a popular wedding venue.

Credit: James Brittain

 

The new stage is lined with curtains formed from 20,000 identical extruded aluminum pieces, rotated to form a complex pattern. These modules are the final in a series of extrusions developed after months of research with metalworkers in a local Hutterite colony. They are held together with aircraft cable and rivets, and form a versatile backdrop for projections and illumination; the flexible mesh curtains can also be winched back on two sides of the cube to reveal the stage within.“The project started off as a bandshell, but ended up being something else,” Radulovic says. “Whether your event is 30 people or 30,000 people, you can hold it there.”

  • Interior, with view through the flexible mesh.

    Credit: James Brittain

    Interior, with view through the flexible mesh.

On the second level, the concrete core supports a private stage with metal bleacher seating, accessible via a concrete staircase.

On the second level, the concrete core supports a private stage with metal bleacher seating, accessible via a concrete staircase.

Credit: James Brittain

 

The new stage is used for concerts about 75 days a year, a 400-percent improvement over the schedule at the old bandshell. Part of the draw is a plug-and-play sound system and integrated lighting and production equipment that make the pavilion far cheaper to use for bands than other similar structures in the citysome of which can cost up to $10,000 to run for a night. Its designed so that anyone can go up and plug in a guitar and be ready to play, principal Sasa Radulovic says.

The new stage is used for concerts about 75 days a year, a 400-percent improvement over the schedule at the old bandshell. Part of the draw is a plug-and-play sound system and integrated lighting and production equipment that make the pavilion far cheaper to use for bands than other similar structures in the city—some of which can cost up to $10,000 to run for a night. “It’s designed so that anyone can go up and plug in a guitar and be ready to play,” principal Sasa Radulovic says.

Credit: James Brittain

 

On days when the pavilion isnt hosting an event, it is lit in different colors using the integrated lighting equipment. On Feb. 14, they project a heart on it, and on St. Patricks day, it glows green. Thats a use as well, Radulovic says. It becomes a player in the city.

On days when the pavilion isn’t hosting an event, it is lit in different colors using the integrated lighting equipment. “On Feb. 14, they project a heart on it, and on St. Patrick’s day, it glows green. That’s a use as well,” Radulovic says. “It becomes a player in the city.”

Credit: James Brittain


Exterior, at night, with cyan lighting.

Exterior, at night, with cyan lighting.

Credit: James Brittain


Exterior, at night, with magenta lighting.

Exterior, at night, with magenta lighting.

Credit: James Brittain


  • Exterior, at night, with yellow lighting.

    Credit: James Brittain

    Exterior, at night, with yellow lighting.
 

Drawings

Credit: Courtesy 5468796 Architecture


Credit: Courtesy 5468796 Architecture

 

Credit: Courtesy 5468796 Architecture



Project Credits

Project  Old Market Square Stage, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Client  Winnipeg Exchange District BIZ
Architect  5468796 Architecture, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada—Mandy Aldcorn, Apollo Au, Brandon Bergem, Ken Borton, Jordy Craddock, Jason Ejzenbart, Michelle Heath, Aynslee Hurdal, Johanna Hurme, Cristina Ionescu, Eva Kiss, Grant Labossiere, Jayne Miles, Colin Neufeld, Zach Pauls, Sean Radford, Sasa Radulovic, Shannon Wiebe, Sharon Wohl (project team)
Structural Engineer  Lavergne Draward & Associates
Electrical Engineer  Williams Engineering Canada
Lighting Design  Ambiances Design Production
Builder  Green Seed Development Corp.
Metal Fabricator  KlarTech
Size  784 square feet
Cost  $1 million Canadian ($914,495 U.S.)