“It’s not the Shanghai model,” Norm Thompson quipped yesterday as he showed me KGHM’s brand new model of the Ajax mine.
He was referring to the sprawling scale model of central Shanghai on display in that city’s governmental offices, and which I wrote about a few months ago when the issue of creating a 3-D rendering of the mine came up.
The Ajax model is only a few feet square, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle facing Kamloops residents as they try to figure out the visual impact of the proposed mine on our community.
Coincidentally, a different model was unveiled only a few days before by a group of private citizens. I got a look at that one yesterday, too. Though it involved quite a few people, I’ll call it the Mader version after architect Hazel Mader (no relation to Christina) who “quarterbacked” it.
It was on display at the Farmer’s Market on the weekend, and plans are to set it up there again. In the meantime, it’s being stored for a few days.
As the two models make the rounds, they’re sure to generate big interest and discussion. Thus begins what promises to be the newest debate in this controversial and contentious project — which model better illustrates how the mine will aesthetically affect the city?
Which one best shows the topography? Which one more accurately illustrates the scale of the project? Which provides the better picture of sightlines between the mine and town?
And, no doubt, there will be speculation — based on little more than suspicion — about misrepresentations and conspiracies to camouflage the positives and the negatives.
The two models represent slightly different snapshots in time during the life of the mine. They’re done to slightly different scales, and were created with different technologies.
Somewhat surprisingly, the KGHM version was cheaper to produce than the “independent” one by a couple of thousand dollars. It was contracted out to a Vancouver firm, which took a big chunk of Styrofoam, keyed the topographical and mine stats into a computer, and lasered it out.
Mader also used computer programming, but created it out of layered cardstock.
Thompson, KGHM’s community liaison guy, says the corporate model is based on what the mine will look like roughly a year before the end of its lifespan. But he thinks it fits the bill for what City Hall requested.
The Mader model looks quite different. They’re a bit like two artists rendering a likeness of the same subject — like Claude Monet and Andy Warhol squaring off over a landscape.
KGHM’s would be the Monet, soft colours and images: the Mader would be Warhol, contrasty, sharply defined.
Which is better?
The Mader, in my view, is more visually interesting, in part because it uses aerial photo imagery to represent the built city. On the other hand, the simplicity of KGHM’s model has its own advantages if one of your main concerns is the differences in elevations between the minesite and city.
KGHM deserves some credit for reacting to the public’s wishes, and the Mader group deserves thanks for putting in two months of hard work to do the same.
Overall, the two models complement each other. Rather than wasting too much time debating which one is “better,” it would be more productive at this point to learn from both.