The Red Spring

As you are walking down Hornby Street, towards Robson, you will see lawyers with their big black rolling cases coming in and out of the Arthur Erickson-designed Law Courts. Sitting atop the Law Courts is  a rooftop garden that runs three blocks and houses rain-blessed thickets, wild flowers and waterfalls.

Sitting at the bottom of this impressive Robson Square landmark is Spring, a red steel coil that looks like it might be keeping Erickson’s concrete in place. It is, in fact, a sculpture created by artist Alan Chung Hung and installed in 1981.

Chung Hung was born in Canton, China in 1946. He trained as a civil engineer in Hong Kong and moved to Vancouver in 1969. He went on to study sculpture at the Vancouver School of Art and to co-found the Chinese Canadian Visual Arts Society. Chung Hung was invited to design the sculpture after winning a juried competition put on by the BC Building Corporation. He died in 1994 at the young age of 48, but left a public art legacy here that also includes Gate to the Northwest Passage at Vanier Park, Clouds at 938 Howe and Goddess of Democracy at UBC.

Chung Hung said: “ I thrive on rule and order… appreciate definitions we make in our cultural history… …love fairy tales… fantasies… and illusions flashing across my mind! I am of the earth but growing in a fiery search of myself in contradictions and will be reborn from the ashes of desire.”

His red Spring has become a city meeting point. On any day, you might find kids crawling through, couples sitting, protestors meeting or hip hop dancers circling. “How strange our life is,” Chung said, “… we come from earth, return to earth but drawing life from death.”

Written by Elizabeth Newton




Hélène Bourget


Kaori Kasai

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton