A moving projection of colour

Proto Studios has completed a high-profile commission for Toronto Transit Commission, drawing on specialist IGU expertise from Cornwall Glass.

Sitting within the Toronto commuter-belt, Highway 407 is its new subway station and bus terminal.

The contemporary transport hub was commissioned by the Toronto Transit Commission and opened at the end of 2017. The intermodal transport gateway features a subway, an 18-bay bus-terminal, and will ultimately connect to the city’s new Highway 407 transitway.

The design team AECOM, Aedas, and architects Parsons Brinkerhoff were charged with creating an open and light-filled space, for the most part below ground-level, something they did with the help of UK-based artist David Pearl, architectural art glass specialists Proto Studios, and Cornwall Glass.

“We were approached by David Pearl, who we had worked with before, and who had been commissioned to create the building’s defining 315m2 elliptical sky light, the 100m2 western bus station façade, and 200m2 escalator panelling,” David Proto of Proto Studios said.

“He had created a giant ‘brush-stroke’ design, with an orange, blue and yellow colour scheme, for the sky-light and facade. The key requirement was that it would throw light and colour – the orange, blue and yellow – down on the public walkway below, which is why ceramic screen printing was chosen.

“Digital print inks are far too opaque – it wouldn’t have delivered the vibrancy and the light that the artist and design team wanted.”

The artwork – called Sky Ellipse – was designed by David Pearl to create a moving projection of colour, following the movement of the sun throughout the day with light filtering down to platform level.

This made choice of printing process and the make-up of the units key. Proto Studios selected Cornwall Glass as a supply partner because of its expertise in the fabrication of over-sized units into the commercial glazing sector.

“There are lots of IGU manufacturers out there but most only have experience in domestic supply, so if you’re looking for good commercial IGU suppliers your list comes down to about nine, and to do what we wanted to do, just two: Cornwall Glass and one other supplier. With the scale of the installation a really big factor,” David Proto said.

Measuring 45m x 7m and weighing around 14 tonnes, the skylight was designed to bring light to the concourse below. Each IGU measured 2,250mm x 1,500mm and individually weighing 194kg.

“We scaled-up David’s designs, working out the number of units required and ceramic screen printed each, so that each unit was made up from a 10mm toughened outside leaf with the decorative surface on the inside and a 13mm laminate on the inside of each unit,” Proto said.

“We printed each leaf individually using a three colour-way process, toughened them, and then sent them to Cornwall Glass who made up the units under our supervision, and who finally shipped them to Canada for installation.”

The Highway 407 units were manufactured at Cornwall Glass’s purpose-built IGU and processing facility at Langage, Plymouth.