The SFU Burnaby campus has a lot of green spaces, courtyards, fountains, and a triumphant aesthetic when the brilliant sunlight strikes the brutalist concrete. But our school becomes very gloomy during the rainy season, which can affect mood and overall enjoyment of being on campus.
It’s time we implement a few changes here and there to make Burnaby campus a cheerful place all year round, such as designs that would be enhanced by the presence of rain.
Currently, the AQ garden is delightful in the summer, but becomes completely abandoned and desolate when it rains. This inefficient use of space could be stopped by building a gazebo on the hill and adding rain shelters around the area, so people at SFU can enjoy the fresh air and tranquil rain without getting wet — something I’m sure most people would find soothing, potentially romantic, and possibly cathartic. It could also help provide some seclusion and solitude for introverts.
SFU could also replace useless features, such as the pyramid and the avocado, with ones that are accessible and attractive when it’s gloomy out. Perhaps kinetic art installations that move and transform as it rains, or machines that can generate rainbows? Other replacements could include outdoor table tennis or outdoor exercise equipment, which would need protection from the rain.
The campus could also be improved by using thermochromic paint to create colourful designs that only appear in the rain. This innovative application of technology was popularized by the designers of Project Monsoon, who plan to replace the dreary concrete and pavement on the streets of Seoul with colourful rivers inhabited by sea creatures.
SFU could also look to imitate the success of Rainworks, a project that uses hydrophobic paint to create colourless, rain-activated art along sidewalks. This has primarily been used to spread positive messages in community spaces, but it could also be used to create mysterious clues, riddles, puzzles, and other things that would give the public something to look forward to when it’s wet outside.
Furthermore, decorating the bland concrete around the campus with more public art, colourful designs, or plant life could make a small but impactful difference.
For example, the floor of the corridor from the AQ to the end of Blusson Hall could be redesigned by SFU students in our fine arts and/or interactive arts and technology programs. In addition, SFU could also replace the bland flooring around the Burnaby campus, such as in the WMC, the AQ, and other major corridors, with something aesthetically stunning, cheerful, and even multiculturally significant, such as aboriginal artwork.
By carefully executing innovative and beautiful designs that take advantage of rainy conditions, SFU could become an excellent example for other rain-stricken institutions and municipalities around the world, as well as a hotspot for tourism. But most importantly, it would create a campus that members of the SFU community could enjoy during those rainy Vancouver days.