A Sound Sanctuary on Third Ave


By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 07, 2014

When William Wallace speaks, he performs.

He could be speaking about something mundane, like the difficulty of leasing out a building, but his hands undulate to a rhythm.

They will move around in semi-circles and make little waves and come together like cymbals.

Wallace, a musician who is a sculptor who is an architect of new musical instruments, hopes to find sanctuary in sound on Third Ave.

In a few months, or perhaps a year from now, this empty barren land will be Wallace’s refuge.

Wallace is building a live work studio on Third Ave in Squamish, one that will be his pad, his studio and a performance art gallery.

Located on the edge of the Squamish estuary and the downtown core, the Sound Sanctuary plans to merges ‘industrial urban living with a green biophillic approach’.

He also plans to work with local schools to organise artistic workshops on drumming and musical instruments.

Wallace started looking for a space outside Vancouver a few years ago, a space where he could live and work and play music without much bother to others.

He found land on Third Ave in Squamish, with an inspiring view that seems to have a lilting rhythm of its own.    

The Sound Sanctuary is being conceived by Wallace as a performance/sculpture live/work studio with some parts made out of recycled cargo containers, and other recycled objects.

Some of his original plans called for a bigger development with residential units for rent and a big rooftop garden, but he has since curtailed those plans.

Wallace is as inventive as he is expressive.

Wallace is a percussionist but he does more than just play instruments: He invents them.

Originally from Ontario, Wallace earned a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where he started building large scale wheel drum sculptures.

He later studied metal casting, sound art, video art, performance, kinetics and robotics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Since then, he has fused many a parts together to create several musical instruments, even costumes.

He’s been doing this for the last two decades and says he must have created over 40 musical instruments.

He has invented a turning peg, a long string musical instrument, and many drums and musical instruments using metal, PVC pipes, airplane parts, air turbines, driftwood and discarded industrial equipment.

He also invented a drumming costume, a 100-pound Buddha Belly body armour, along with a backpack vacuum bagpipe.

Never the traditionalist by looks or art, Wallace also created a drum that was a giant robot that drove around and played itself.

“She’s not the greatest drummer,” he says laughing.

His band, SWARM, uses sculptural instruments, intense physical drumming and visceral choreography for a felt experience.

The band has performed all over Canada. In Squamish, Wallace wants to organise workshops for children and enjoy his time in the lap of nature.



  1. mark says:

    Hey William,

    How is the project?
    We are building the first shipping container residential building in. Coquitlam.
    Code compliance was difficult, but working with the right people got us there. Coquitlam was highly involved in our project as it is the pilot.

    Please let us know how you are doing?
    Generation Re-Development LP