canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

‘thunderhead’ LGBTQ2+ monument in ottawa

 

a bold and dynamic design has been chosen for the LGBTQ2+ national monument to be built in downtown ottawa, canada. dubbed ‘thunderhead’, the winning design was conceived by a winnipeg-based team led by liz wreford, peter sampson and taylor larocque of public city, with artists shawna dempsey and lorri millan, and albert mcleod, indigenous and two-spirited people subject-matter expert and advisor. the monument presents itself as a sculptural pavilion cut away to reveal a flashing and glowing disco ball interior. adopting a strong visual and symbolic character, thunderhead is expected to serve as a beacon of inspiration as well as a reminder of the pain of discrimination faced by members of the LGBTQ2+ community every day.

canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

all images courtesy of public city architecture

 

 

a design that embodies joy, love, creativity, and strength

 

the design draws on the symbolism of a thunderhead cloud, embodying the strength, activism, and hope of LGBTQ2+ communities. the monument includes a sculpture, creating an imprint of a thunderhead cloud clad in mirrored tile, a pathway through a landscaped park that traces the history of LGBTQ2+ people in canada, and a healing circle ringed with stones hand-picked by two-spirit elders. surrounded by native plants, and incorporating a medicinal garden and orchard, this monument serves as a space for expressions of grief, healing, and celebration.

 

‘this monument stands as testament to systemic injustices against LGBTQ2+ peoples perpetrated and condoned by the canadian state, and it memorializes individuals who were lost and harmed by these actions, including the many who were impacted by the purge,’ the public city team shares. ‘the thunderhead design we propose irrefutably attests: “this happened”, “this was wrong” and “our lives mattered”. it also embodies joy, love, creativity and strength as lgbtq2+ communities and individuals, for we are so much more than pain and oppression.’

canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

 

 

flashing and glowing interior

 

upon entering the area, the visitor is drawn forward, enveloped by abundant trees and plantings. this verdant environment embraces the site, including the destination of the winding pathway: an imposing columnar form that rises in the center of the grounds. the sculptural monument appears disrupted —cut away— revealing a flashing and glowing interior that breaks apart the form, pushing it outwards and upwards.

 

the visitor then enters the thunderhead, elevated inside the volume of the cloud, and is able to look down to ground level and up to its heights. the roiling interior of the form is clad in glass mosaic tiles that reflect light inwards and out, and remind the viewer of mirror balls, speaking to joy, community, and sexuality. ‘thunderhead is a luminous space that literally reflects our many identities. it is also a void, symbolically holding those we have lost.’ the architects explain.

canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

 

 

the two stages of thunderhead

 

thunderhead is the focal point of the site, and many paths invite the visitor to, around and inside it. the ground level of this dynamic sculptural pavilion contains two stages, one interior and intimate, and one larger and outward-facing. the smaller is ideal for vigils, intimate gatherings, and readings. the larger thrusts beyond the monument toward the sloping lawn that can accommodate 2000 people. this stage is designed for protests, larger performances, and dance parties.

 

the two performance areas are key to the entire concept of the thunderhead monument. they acknowledge the importance of art to LGBTQ2+ history and provide platforms, accessible to anyone, to proclaim, ‘I am’. ‘the stages will be animated by our queer superpower (performance), dancing (which has always been part of our revolution) and protest (for the fight for justice is not over)’, public city notes.

 

 

 

canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interiorcanada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

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canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

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canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

canada's LGBTQ2+ national monument features glowing disco ball interior

 

 

project info: 

 

name: thunderhead LGBTQ2+ monument
architects: public city architecture
artists: shawna dempsey and lorri millan
in collaboration with: albert mcleod
location: ottawa, canada

branding identity, website (live summer 2025): future simple studio

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