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An inspirational sculpture

Wonderland Sculpture by Jaume Plensa

Calgary, AB

Artist: Jaume Plensa

Client: Encana Coporation

Completion: 2012
Category: Public Art

Project Type: Structural Engineering, Feature Structures

Attribution: Crispin Howes*

Wonderland, a sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plense, is prominently located at the base of Calgary’s tallest building, The Bow. At 10m in height, the piece is inspired by the artist’s niece. An ethereal mesh of stainless steel bars with white powdercoated finish form a structural shell without requiring internal supports. The mesh is comprised of a 24mm, 22mm, and 20mm diameter round bars that transition from large to small towards the top. This subtle gradient emphasizes the transparency of the form and reduces the overall weight of the constructed piece. Portals are integrated into the base of the form encouraging the public to experience the work as a whole from the exterior or as a filter to look through to the surrounding plaza. Base connections to supporting structural slab below were specifically coordinated to align with joints in the landscaping paving panels.


A 3D scan of a study sculpture was the basis for the development of the structural solution. The scan was meshed and attributes, such as the portals, were integrated into the form. A structural optimization study was performed to determine the size and distribution of the round bars that comprise the mesh. A 3D model of the control geometry was issued as a contract document to the contractor from construction. The model was used by the contractor as a basis to sub-divide the work into shop welded modules, to locate field joints, to generate bending jigs, and to determine construction staging requirements.

*Project delivered by Principal prior to joining PICCO

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