The brave and very persistent Guntis "Gunnar" Tannis, a Latvian war refugee who became airline Captain for Air Canada in Toronto, spent more than 30 years dreaming about and working towards his great ambition of building a grandiose city of the future in the Canadian "nowhere". The tiny hamlet of Utopia, founded by an Irish settler about 90 kilometres north of Toronto in 1843 and named in honour of Sir Thomas Moore, would become the geographical centre for the project.
Gunnar Tannis’ Project Utopia had several major ambitions: it was to include the construction of a floating airfield located in the Nottawasaga Bay of Lake Huron and a 58-kilometer-long, partly floating bridge across Lake Ontario, connecting the City of Toronto to the State of New York, as well as monorail train lines and the City of Utopia itself, located on the shores of the Nottawasaga River. With great determination, maintaining his clear vision, Tannis worked obsessively for many years together with a group of architects, engineers and artists, creating concepts for several grandiose and technologically challenging structures and complexes.
One of the most architecturally and conceptually challenging elements of Project Utopia was the World Peace Centre, or Sitara, a complex of buildings symbolising the different religions of the world with space for at least 200 thousand people. It would be a place to radiate peace and hope.
Tannis worked together with and was very inspired by the original ideas of the Canadian inventor Helmut Bergman, who developed the concept of a continuous truss construction system, which was ideally suited for the construction of spherical truss structures that could be used to build on any scale.