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Posted by: Charles Montgomery on October 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm

For one day in the summer of 2013, hundreds of people came together to re-invent a Vancouver street using giant blocks of recycled polystyrene. We built castles. We built walls. We built giant games and hallucinatory landscapes. Most of all, we worked and played together to transform the street into an ephemeral social machine. The day was the culmination of months of thinking, arguing, designing and dreaming by a team led largely by volunteers. We at MOV called the project Upcycled Urbanism.

For many urbanites, the landscapes we move through can feel finished, static and beyond our control. Upcycled Urbanism was initiated to empower students, artists, designers, makers, and anyone else who cared to become part of Vancouver’s evolving design culture by reimagining—and rebuilding—part of Vancouver’s public realm.

Working together, teams of participants designed and built prototypes using modular blocks of expanded polystyrene containing material salvaged from construction sites around the Lower Mainland by Mansonville Plastics.

First, students from the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) created prototypes of building blocks. Then, at a series of workshops in the spring, teams brainstormed, sketched, and modelled how to use these blocks for wild new public design ideas. They got plenty of help from design experts from partner organizations, which included SALA, the Vancouver Public Space Network and Spacing Magazine.

Then, on July 13, we hit Granville Street. There were dozens of volunteer builders, and nearly six hundred giant blocks to play with. Our team leaders thought it would be hard to convince the public  to join the build effort. Not so! Often led by their children, passers-by leapt into the design+build fray. Because the work was temporary, people took all kinds of chances with their design, using the I-beam and 3X3 blocks to make tables, pyramids, thrones, forts and surreal sculptures.

During the day, more than 1,500 people stopped to play, build, critique or take pictures. My favourite moment came during the heat of mid-afternoon. A fire alarm sounded in a nearby building, and dozens impromptu builders jumped into action, clearing the street of building blocks within seconds. It was a moment of destruction, but also of wonderful, organic teamwork by people, many of whom had begun the day as strangers. And it prepared us to start building all over again.

It all felt like play. In fact what we were doing was learning how to design and build together. We were testing the bubble-bursting potential of new forms. We were teaching ourselves not just styro-engineering, but new techniques for working together with strangers. And with every new structure, we claimed a little bit more ownership of the street. 

After all the building was done, volunteers packed the polystyrene into our rented cube truck and hauled it back to Mansonville Plastics, where it was ground down and used to make new building products. The cycle was complete.

Thank you to our amazing  partners and team leaders. Thank you to the members of the public who helped build a new street for a day. Thank you to the Vancouver Foundation, whose generous support helped get the project going. Thank you to MOV staff and volunteers. And thank you to Mansonville  Plastics, whose recycling efforts inspired us, and whose blocks helped turn our dreams into design.

Upcycled Urbanism was a Museum of Vancouver initiative in partnership with the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) at the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine, with generous additional support from SALA, Mansonville Plastics and the Vancouver Foundation.

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm
 

For months, teams of designers, students and regular folks have been hard at work re-imagining, re-configuring and re-designing Granville Street. Finally, on Saturday, July 13, their design dreams will be revealed as MOV and our partners invite the public downtown to participate in the transformation of the 700 Block of Granville.

Their designs will become a reality through the use of hundreds of super-sized polystyrene building blocks salvaged from construction sites around Metro Vancouver.

The material is part of pioneering work by Langley-based Mansonville Plastics, which rescued polystyrene and ground it down for use in new blocks. After our event, materials will be returned for a third round of recycling and re-envisioning.

The entire Upcycled Urbanism project came together around just such ideas of 'upcycling.' Way back in January, the project was born from a common aspiration of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA), the Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire Vancouver, Spacing Magazine and MOV to offer people new ways to re-envision public design. As we've been reporting since then, teams of students, artists, designers, and makers have been talking about and planning public interventions that juxtapose unexpected forms and ideas against otherwise mundane spaces.

So what can you expect to see on July 13th? We don't want to give too much away, but you might see a giant living room, a super-sized game zone, or, as one team member put it, an "all-out public hallucination." As Zanny Venner of VPSN explains, the idea of disrupting expectations is intrinsic to the project: "I think people will be surprised at how much of an impact the material of polystyrene can make. You wouldn't necessarily think so, but it has inspired people to transform a street space into a unique and unexpected social landscape."

Excited? There's still time to join a build team by emailing us at upcycledurbanism@museumofvancouver.ca. And on July 13th everyone is invited to watch, encourage builders and engage with this interactive landscape between 10:00am and 8:00pm.

See you there!

 
[All images from our Volunteer Orientation Night on June 26, 2013]
Posted by: Charles Montgomery on March 26, 2013 at 12:00 am

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?

After a month of brainstorming, design posturing, and hundreds of chocolate chunk cookies, the Upcycled Urbanism community has gathered enough ideas to drive a truly mind-bending public space intervention.

Ideas were flying fast and furious at our final workshop on March 24 thanks to help from Spacing Magazine, Vancouver Maker Faire, and UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Team leaders Blair Satterfield, Matthew Peters, and Anya Paskovic encouraged participants to imagine designs that shocked and surprised people, in part by juxtaposing unexpected forms and ideas against otherwise mundane places. Linnea Zulch took some great images here

(Linnea Zulch image.)

The ideas came from all directions. Like this: a malleable blockade, forcing people to contort in order to pass down a busy downtown street:

(Linnea Zulch image.)

A team made of high school students and more seasoned designers used Minnie Chan’s 3X3 blocks to create a spine-like structure reminiscent of Brian Jungen’s whale sculpture:

(Linnea Zulch image.)

Someone even suggested creating a giant pond in the middle of the street: a place for floating polystyrene blocks or—why not?—people. What might this look like...something like this?

It was wonderful to see participants of all ages using this design playtime to create visions that, if built, could disrupt our city’s idea of what streets are for. Of course we are not merely dreaming with design. The Upcycled community will actually be turning these ideas into form in public this July, using giant, super-light blocks of expanded polystyrene.

What’s next?

Now our three teams are using lessons from these workshops to figure out what they will build at our spectacular public design/build event on July 13. That event will take place at a central downtown location, to be announced next month. You can be part of that day of creative disruption! If you want to stay involved or join one of the design teams, keep in touch with us…

Through Twitter: @museumofvan #upcycledurbanism

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MuseumofVancouver

Or watch for updates on MOV’s Upcycled Urbanism blog topic: Upcycled Urbanism

And help us create a public design revolution!

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

 

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Posted by: Mitra Mansour on March 19, 2013 at 12:00 am


[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

Hallucinating in Public: Creating Environments That Are Beautiful and Disruptive, the second workshop in the Upcycled Urbanism March series,  got off to a mysterious start. Bill Pechet of  SALA and Ian Lowrie of  Spacing Vancouver gave a packed room of urban design enthusiasts an introduction to design process: a matter of creating poetry with an "immaculate corpse." They combined images of playful, practical and interactive urban realm installations with fun fur because, of course, it's  fun!

 

Students of Bill's studios at SALA are no strangers to this nouveau-surreal approach to public place making. Those just being exposed to the approach were intrigued by and drawn into the design-making process. By playing with “hallucinatory” systems as a catalyst for more creative civic engagement and participatory place making, participants used design thinking to create potentially richer public realm projects.

 

They brought together the various poetic elements in conceptual drawings and scale models (constructed from modular blocks created by SALA students). Some projects explored possible public spaces which incorporated interactive permeable walls. Others provided communal sheltered spaces with moving bookshelves for an outdoor library. Others played with lighting, while others used sculptures as multi-faceted sensory vignettes to help people better connect with one another.

 

Images by: MOV Volunteer Linnea Zulch

Bill Pechet of SALA and Ian Lowrie of Spacing Vancouver

Participants start to layer their hallucinations onto the site.

 

Collaborative modular forms start to take shape rooted in previous Immaculate Corpse layering process

A week later, Block Talk: Creating Spaces That Connect People ( the third Upcycled Urbanism  workshop) brought together local design enthusiasts with town planning students from the University of Dortmund in Germany.

 

The sold-out workshop was  co-lead by Mari Fujita, a professor at UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Jonathan Bleakley and Zanny Venner from Vancouver Public Space Network.

 

The central challenge? Use a  public feast as a driver for communication and connection between friends and strangers. The concept was inspired in part by the leader’s own innovative projects. In 2005,  Fujita’s Space Agency project (2005) invited designers to reclaim Vancouver’s little-used alleyways. The winner saw giant balloons lodged in a rarely-used Gastown alley. In the summer of 2012, Vancouver Public Space Network’s Lunch Meet initiative used a half-block  long dining table to draw strangers to share their lunches together.

 

Workshop participants were guided to think about innovative models of public furniture and collaborative community activities using blocks designed by students in SALA’s Material Culture Studio.

 

The workshop produced some tremendous ideas. There were prototypes of multi-generational spaces promoting play and performance. There were clustered spaces for napping and “romantic meetings.” Teams used the modular blocks to prototype  flexible and multi-use street furniture at seated and standing scales,  as well as interactive forms which could shift to create solid or permeable structures to allow for human connection through sight and sound. The German students, amused that Vancouverites are not permitted to drink alcohol in public, proposed interesting ‘bar’ tables, sparking  conversation around policiy and cultural differences that shape public drinking.

Mar. 17 images by Kellan Higgens.

 

Zanny Venner of VPSN, Mari Fujita of SALA, Jonathan Bleakley of VPSN

 

Ready, set, charrette!

 

New innovative modular forms emerge to create public feast spaces
 

All Mar. 17: Kellan Higgins - http://www.kellanhiggins.com

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Participate in the LAST Upcycled Urbanism Workshop:

Surprise and Juxtaposition in the Public Realm

with SALA, Spacing, and Maker Faire

 

Design forms and images seem to reappear through life--whether in architecture, nature, or even in the food we eat. How can forms from seemingly disparate realms provide inspiration for imaginative public space interventions that draw people together, hold them, and perhaps even change them?

 

No need to have a design background, just bring your creative and curious mind!

 

Upcycled Urbanism is a partnership between MOV, the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) at the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine. With generous support from Mansonville Plastics and Vancouver Foundation.

 

Location: Museum of Vancouver

Date: Sunday, March 24

Cost: By general admission | MOV members and project partners free

Register: http://march24upcycledurbanism.eventbrite.com/

Twitter: #upcycledurbanism

             @museumofvan

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

 

Posted by: Charles Montgomery on March 12, 2013 at 12:00 am

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

As we head towards our third round of design play, Upcycled Urbanism has been turning heads 'round town. First came a great story by the Georgia Straight's Stephen Thomson:

Museum of Vancouver program invites public to reimagine public spaces

Ready, set, design! Our first Upcycled workshop: image by Kellan Higgens.

Bill Pechet told Thomson that "he hopes the design-and-build day will provoke thought about how the urban landscape can be transformed. 'We hope that it leads to a greater conversation about the use of imaginative ideas in the public realm that aren’t just classic benches or trees, and the occasional bike rack, Pechet told the Straight." Amen!

Next came a thoughtful piece by CP reporter Rebekah Funk, accompanied by great shots by photographer Eric Dreger.

In Photos: Leftover Port Mann Bridge materials reused in Vancouver art

SALA student Minnie Chan shows off scale model of block she designed for Upcycled. Hundreds of giant versions of this block will be used in our design-build event. Metro News image by Eric Dreger.

There are two more chances to join design teams this month. Join us on Sunday, Mar. 17 or Sunday, Mar 24, and to explore how we can transform a public space using giant polystyrene blocks!

 [What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

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Posted by: Charles Montgomery on March 6, 2013 at 12:00 am

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

Upcycled Urbanism is off to a roaring start on our journey to design and build new public space interventions, together!

Your block, my block

On March 3 we unveiled prototypes for the building blocks we’ll be using to create our designs. These unique prototypes were designed by Minnie Chan and Jessika Kliewer, students of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Congratulations, Minnie and Jessika! Your work will be transformed into hundreds of big blocks of expanded polystyrene by our friends at Mansonville Plastics.

SALA students Minnie Chan (left) and Jessika Kliewer (right) introduce their building block prototypes. Image on right: Kellan Higgins.

Designing together

Last week’s workshop was a blast. After a primer on participatory design by Vancouver Design Nerds Marten Sims and Kim Cooper, participants came up with some wild and wonderful ideas for animating moribund spaces in our city. A giant slide. A waterfall from the Burrard Bridge. A giant Pac-Man board on Granville Street. Check out their ideas here

Participants at March 3 workshop present their ideas, including...Human Plinko! (Kellan Higgins image.)

Hallucinating in public

Now it’s time to figure out just how we’ll use these blocks to transform public spaces in Vancouver. This Sunday, March 10, join SALA and Spacing Magazine for the first of three workshops. Workshop leaders promise to lead participants into what they call the hallucinatory state needed to imagine new designs. The mind reels. Join us!

RSVP: http://march10upcycledurbanism.eventbrite.com/

Upcycled Urbanism is a participatory project that invites students, artists, designers, makers, and anyone with a even a smidgen of creativity to reimagine and rebuild parts of Vancouver’s public realm. Working together, teams of participants will design and build prototypes using modular blocks of expanded polystyrene containing material salvaged from the construction of the Port Mann Bridge. 

Upcycled Urbanism is a partnership between Museum of Vancouver (MOV), UBC's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA), Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN), Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine, with generous additional support from SALA, the Vancouver Foundation and Mansonville Plastics.

Twitter: #upcycledurbanism

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

Posted by: Charles Montgomery on March 1, 2013 at 12:00 am

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

This winter MOV and our friends decided it was time to invite everyone to redesign and rebuild part of Vancouver's public realm. The fun starts this Sunday.

Upcycled Urbanism is a participatory project that invites students, artists, designers, makers, and anyone with a even a smidgen of creativity to reimagine and rebuild parts of Vancouver’s public realm. Working together, teams of participants will design and build prototypes using modular blocks of expanded polystyrene containing material salvaged from construction sites around the Lower Mainland. 

The first step for many of us will learning just how we can work with others to imagine our future city together. Hence our first workshop:

Designing Together: the first workshop in MOV's Upcycled Urbanism series

This kickoff event focuses on how to hold a design charrette: a fun, engaging, and inclusive workshop in which experts and community members work together to turn their ideas into pictures and plans. If you've ever wanted to get people together to work on a new idea for your neighbourhood or your city, then this workshop can give you the tools. With guidance from the Vancouver Design Nerds, we'll brainstorm how to bring an underutilized public space to life.

Bonus: Sneak peak of spectacular Upcycled Urbanism building block designs created by students of UBC's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Mar. 3 Workshop leaders are Vancouver Design Nerds Marten Sims and Kim Cooper.

 

Kim Cooper is a multi-media artist, designer, and creative community facilitator. She is the owner of Kale Creative and a director for both the Vancouver Design Nerds and Vancouver Community Lab Society.

Marten Sims is a trans-disciplinary designer, artist, curator, researcher, facilitator and design faculty member at Emily Carr University. Over the past decade Marten has produced design work with and for a broad range of social, environmental, cultural, media, health, advocacy and science organisations. He was selected this January to City of Vancouver's 'Mayors Citizens Engaged City Task Force'.

Join us!

2:00PM - 4:00PM @ MOV (1100 Chestnut St) 

Please register at:

http://march3upcycledurbanism.eventbrite.com

Twitter: #upcycled urbanism

Upcycled Urbanism is a partnership between Museum of Vancouver (MOV), UBC's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA), Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN), Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine, with generous additional support from SALA, the Vancouver Foundation and Mansonville Plastics.

[What is Upcycled Urbanism? Learn more here.]

Posted by: Mitra Mansour on February 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

The Upcycled Urbanism project makes use of recycled expanded polystyrene donated from Mansonville Plastics. We really value the use (and re-use) of recycled and reclaimed materials in public space installations.

As such, we've really been loving 2 recent public art projects.

The first being a collaborative effort between Monash University, Rintala Eggertsson Architects, Grimshaw Architects and Places Victoria, called the Sealight Pavilion. This site-specific installation on the Australian Docklands uses reclaimed timber to pose an alternative urbanism use in scale and experience for the area. We also really love how partners in this project involved the Monash University Architecture students to help them design this new space.

Our second favourite is the Heartwalk project in Times Square, NY, installed just in time for Valentine's Day. Heartwalk is by Situ Studio (link: http://www.situstudio.com/) and was the winner of this year’s Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, a contest organized by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance and Design Trust for Public Space challenging designers and architects to come up with a love-inspired installation for Duffy Square. This project stood out as a contest winner because it proposed the use of reclaimed boardwalk boards from the Rockaways in New York and Atlantic City in New Jersey which were damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and not only celebrates romantic love, but the power of love to heal and overcome hard times. 

Upcycled Urbanism is a partnership between MOV, the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) at the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine.

With generous support from the Vancouver Foundation and Mansonville Plastics.

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

 

 
Posted by: Mitra Mansour on January 29, 2013 at 12:00 am

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

What do you get when you gather some of Vancouver's most talented designers in one room at Museum of Vancouver for the first Upcycled Urbanists meeting? Exploration, play, great questions, even greater conversations, and some amazing ideation. We can't wait to see what our Upcycled Urbanists have planned for our Design Sunday Workshop Charettes!

Workshops start on March 3, so make sure you RSVP and get over here to start building!

Below: Upcycled Urbanism Project Partners from SALA, VPSN, Maker Faire, and Spacing Vancouver

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

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Posted by: Mitra Mansour on January 28, 2013 at 12:00 am

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

Congratulations to Eric, Jessika, Lindsay, and Minnie on having their modular unit designs chosen as the four finalists to be used by our Partners at SALA, Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire, and Spacing Vancouver to help create a collaborative public realm installation!

The above images are work by UBC School of Landscape Architecture and Architecture Students (Left to Right) - Lindsay Duthie, Eric Lajoie,  Jessika Kliewer, Minnie Chan.

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

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