Orca Sculpture at School in Silverdale, Washington

Founded in Oakland in 1997, Wowhaus is the artist duo of Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable. We make site-specific/site-responsive, community-engaged public art in cities across the USA. We work in a wide range of media and contexts, so our work takes many forms, but is best known for being highly crafted, interactive, environmentally astute, conceptually rigorous, and fantastically innovative in form.

We were recently commissioned by the Washington State Arts Commission to realize a project at a new public middle school complex in Silverdale, WA. We were invited by the school to choose a site within the new complex and its and propose and create a new site-specific artwork. Wanting to meaningfully impact the daily experience of teachers, staff and students, and also complement the beautiful architecture for the community, we decided to create a suspended sculpture within the main entry commons. The sculpture would daily greet people as they entered the building, but would also be visible from outside the school for the greater community who frequent the campus, which doubles as a neighborhood park.

I designed and made our ORCA sculpture as a tribute to the killer whale, or orca dolphin, a globally endangered species and apex predator, and a familiar sight in the waterways surrounding Kitsap. I also wanted to honor the forests and craft traditions of the region, so I designed and built the ORCA sculpture like a traditional wooden boat, using local Western red cedar, white ash from Oregon, and Sitka spruce from further up the coast. I steam bent the ash ribs, and riveted stringers of sitka spruce to make the basic form. I hand-shaped fins and flippers from Western red cedar, and laminated them to a cold bent spine of the same tightly grained wood, from which the ribs and stringers hang. I wanted the sculpture to mimic an encounter in nature, but also wanted it to evoke the historic technologies and craft traditions of the region. Also, as we formalized our proposal, we conceived of the dropped ceiling in the space as analogous to the surface of the sea from below. Our ORCA sculpture encourages students and staff to think of architectural spaces metaphorically, and in scale with their natural surroundings.

–Scott Constable

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

3 Responses to Orca Sculpture at School in Silverdale, Washington

  1. Nice Orca.
    Even nicer and more WOW, was your newsletter just read.

    Wow, Lloyd, you continue to make me smile and impress. Your travels upcoming (Italy/Venice etc) are so amazing…Am so glad you are able to
    go to see in person Shelter Books Exhibited at the Biennale Architettura in Venice….——— An honor to you, and justifiably so. Congratulations. My heart and thoughts will be with you as you travel, and very much look forward to photos/reports. — Sort of seems like it deserves a book all on its own.—- ??? (this particular trip/event)

    Smart to travel as light as possible, as it seems the folks there are making good arrangements for you/taking good care. Expect anything you need they could/will be able to provide. (Including an extra camera or computer etc should you suddenly find want/need)….. I know by now you know this, and have it down pat, but PLEASE accept any help/offers they give…(not, “I can manage”)……. if not for yourself, for all of us back here in blog land, who will much appreciate all you can share. (might we get reports/up dates as you go?)

    take care..will keep you in my thoughts.

  2. Hey Lloyd,
    could you do a blog post on trip
    Shelter Books Exhibited at the Biennale Architettura in Venice

    Would like to be able to forward it to folks, via your blog.

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