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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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Posted by: Mitra Mansour on January 21, 2013 at 12:00 am

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

We popped in to help crit the very inventive modular unit designs the students in Bill Pechet's Studio have been creating for Upcycled Urbanism. We were really inspired by all the fabulous designs the students created and very excited to sit on a panel with Marlon Blackwell!

Work by UBC School of Landscape Architecture and Architecture Material Cultures Studio Students - Mahmoud Bakayoko, Minnie Chan, Lindsay Duthie, Jessika Kliewer, Margarita Krivolutskaya, Eric Lajoie, Mallory Stuckel, Shiloh Sukkau, Avery Titchkosky, Lorinc Vass

Photo Credit: Shiloh Sukkau, UBC SALA Student

[What is Upcycled Urbanism?]

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on January 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm
 
Happy 2013, MOVers! We hope you all had a warm, cozy, and cheerful holiday season ... because that's all about to come to an end. The new year has us confronting a monster (bridge), a bizarre beast (in the form of a poodle sculpture on Main), and the demise of an East Van cultural space (R.I.P. Waldy). Not to mention the economic fallout from the end of the NHL lockout and fears surrounding a new megapub in the Olympic Village. But don't be frightened, gentle readers: on the flip side of these changes and challenges there are opportunities for innovation, evolution, and what we can only hope will be constructive dialogue.
 
Killer Bridge? John Metcalfe over at Atlantic Cities makes the argument that the Port Mann Bridge is out to destroy its human creators (or anyone who crosses its path) pointing to the ice that it threw down on drivers on December 19th. However, it looks like there's plenty more blame to go around: according to this opinion piece from The Tyee, Transportation Minister Polak put the blame on drivers themselves for a January 3rd crash. We suppose one could also blame insufficient de-icing and poor road-condition forecasting. Killer bridge or no killer bridge, let's all just be careful out there.
 
Poodle Party. A new seven-foot poodle sculpture at Main and 18th is causing a little bit of controversy. As the Vancouver Observer reports, at least one resident is confused about how the public art piece, which was sponsored by the city and TransLink, is meant to represent the neighbourhood. Martin Stoakes complains that "Instead of hiring an artist from the neighbourhood, they hired an artist from Montreal who after walking up and down the street decided a poodle was the best reflection of the community." Check it out in front of the new Shopper's Drug Mart and decide for yourself. 
 
Street Economics. One of the most commented-on pieces of news coming out of the city last week was the closing of the financially troubled Waldorf Hotel. As soon as the press release came out, Interneters of all ilks began eulogizing the East Van cultural institution while bad-mouthing the condo developers who purchased it. See what Mayor Robertson had to say about it here, and why there may still be hope for an arts and cultural hub in the area. Another piece of economic news that we hope won't come true? Proposed higher fines for sleeping outdoors and illegal vending aimed at the homeless.
 
Is Hockey Bad for Business? Don Cayo at the Vancouver Sun says yes. He explains that the end of the NHL lockout may actually have a negative impact (albeit slight) on the city's economy: "The reason is, when you think about it, pretty obvious. When people can't spend their money on pricey sports tickets, they spend it on other stuff instead." And a large portion of the money going towards those pricey tickets is ending up with players and owners who are less likely to spend it in the city right away. So go ahead and get excited for the return of hockey, just don't get that excited.
 
Trouble Brewing. Lastly, some residents of the Olympic Village are protesting the opening of the CRAFT Beer Market in the Salt Building, claiming that it will devalue real estate in the area. Worries range from traffic congestion to increased night-time noise and rowdiness. We're hoping that if the project goes through, "rowdiness" will translate into "liveliness" or - even better - "vibrant nightlife." 
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Port Mann Bridge under construction, 2012. Photo by Ken_Lord via Flickr]
Posted by: Charles Montgomery on January 7, 2013 at 12:00 am

Have you ever wished you could redesign and rebuild part of Vancouver's public realm?

Architecture and design is an inescapable part of the Vancouver experience, yet there are few chances for people to influence these designs outside of academic settings, City Hall, or architectural offices. Sometimes it can feel like the city and its spaces are created by unseen hands in some faraway design star chamber. And let’s face it: the designs we live with on Vancouver’s streets are not always as creative and risky as they could be.

What if we could invite everyone to re-imagine aspects of urban design and then actually empower them to build prototypes of their ideas? This is the question that gave birth to Upcycled Urbanism: a design+build project for everyone.

What is Upcycled Urbanism?

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.

Raw material, ready for recycling into public design in the yard at Mansonville Plastics

In the yard at Mansonville Plastics: raw material, ready for recycling into public design.

First, students from the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture created building block prototypes. Then, at a series of workshops in March 2013, teams will brainstorm, sketch, and model how to use these blocks for new public design ideas with the help of design experts from our partner organizations. Everyone is welcome. Finally, teams will come together again to actually build their creations at an outdoor design/build spectacle in July. The wider community will be invited to help, critique, encourage the builders, and occupy their creations. Think of it as a combination workshop/street celebration/public art unveiling!

Materials will then be re-recycled for industrial use.

Upcycled Urbanism is a partnership between Museum of Vancouver, 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.

Why are we doing it?

By inviting people to re-imagine public art and street amenities, we hope that Upcycled Urbanism will provoke conversations about public realms and design culture in Vancouver, foster collaboration and connection between people of diverse backgrounds and talents, and give participants a greater sense of ownership over the public places they share.

It will also viscerally explore issues of sustainability by removing polystyrene from the waste stream, empowering people to build with it in a large-scale public spectacle, and finally returning the material for further recycling.

Workshops bring people together for design and creation.

How did Upcycled get started?

Upcycled Urbanism began as an idea and grew into a collaborative community effort.

Back in the summer of 2012, we mentioned MOV’s participatory design aspirations to Erick Villagomez, editor of Spacing Vancouver, and he suggested the perfect medium to make this dream come true: expanded polystyrene, or EPS. This material, sometimes incorrectly mistaken for Styrofoam, is super-light and easy to cut into shapes.

Best of all, said Erick, we have a local, green source for it! Langley-based Mansonville Plastics actually diverts blocks of used EPS bound for the landfill and grinds the stuff down in order to produce entirely new, usable blocks. (In 2012, Mansonville supplied the EPS filling for the wondrous Pop Rocks installation at Robson Square.)

Mansonville generously offered to fabricate a mountain of blocks for the project. Then Spacing, Maker Faire Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Space Network, and UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) all came on board as partners.

 SALA’s Bill Pechet offered to put his design studio students to work creating EPS building block prototypes. Then, with a small grant from the Vancouver Foundation, we were off and running.

Who can get involved?

You! One of the project’s goals is to get design experts and students thinking and playing with people from other backgrounds. So whether you want to contribute to the design conversation, help build with the blocks, or just watch, you are welcome to join us during our program in the spring and summer of 2013.

We are limited only by our dreams! Image: Tavis Brown's photostream

Activities:

March workshops @Museum of Vancouver:

Sunday, Mar 3:    Designing Together: a primer on how to give fun, inclusive design workshops

Sunday, Mar 10:  Building Public Hallucinations: a design journey with SALA and Spacing Vancouver

Sunday, Mar 17:  Block Talk: creating spaces that bring people together, with SALA and Vancouver Public Space Network

Sunday, Mar 24:  Shock and Surprise: public design juxtapositions, with SALA and Maker Faire Vancouver

Workshop Time: 2:00pm–4:00pm

July Design build event: watch this space for date/location!

 

 

 

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on December 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

We've all heard certain stereotypes used to describe Vancouver before (Vancouverites = yoga-fanatic, organic juice-guzzlers). But as is the nature of cliches, while they may contain a kernel of truth, they also ignore a deeply layered lived experience that is not so easily summed up in buzzwords and cute expressions. In MOVments this week we're looking at the city through the lens of a few well-worn adages and in the process deconstructing and complicating some of our civic assumptions.

(Heritage) Home is Where the Heart Is. This story from the Vancouver Sun about the relationship between heritage buildings and densification got us thinking about the notion of "home" and our historically-rooted aesthetic expectations. As the article suggests, in a city that is constantly changing, Vancouverites are being forced to reevaluate what the "quintessential Canadian home" will look like in the future. It also poses an interesting idea from local historian John Atkin: while there seems to be an "inherent" cultural beauty to heritage houses, given time, Atkin believes that our contemporary glass towers will also take on a similar emotional and nostalgic resonance.
 
The More Things Change..."Housing costs are high, but we can't afford to throw up our hands and say we can't afford to build many more houses until costs come down again. In a city growing as fast as ours this would be the counsel of stupidity and despair. We must have more homes and we must have them at prices people can afford to pay." Sound familiar? It was pulled from a Vancouver Sun article from 1958. The Tyee reflects on the findings of the Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability, putting them into historical context for us in this little article from a few weeks back. Nothing like some good old-fashioned archival research to shed some light on contemporary issues. Great read!
 
Beggars Can't Be Choosers. Chances are you've heard of Mark Brand's sandwich token program at Save-On-Meats. And chances are if you know about it, you also know that it's been surrounded by controversy from the get go. The Mainlander laid down some harsh criticism of the project that encourages restaurant goers to purchase meal tokens for panhandlers in the area, in this recent article. Peter Driftmier argues that the program's basic conceit ("beggars can't be choosers") is based on an assumption that the homeless cannot be trusted to make "appropriate" purchases with money given to them. He says,"Instead of playing into stereotypes about poor people and tokenizing the poor, it’s best to trust and empower all residents to make the best food choices possible for themselves and their families." Stephen Quinn further complicates the story in his piece for the Globe and Mail where he provides a more nuanced perspective on Brand's social enterprise but also ponders the efficacy of treating the symptoms of poverty rather than the causes.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
January 17 - Built City@MOV
 
[Image: English Bay, c. 1937. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-569
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on December 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

This week's MOVments is all about the bottom line: money, moola, coin. Well, not exactly. After all, when is business ever really just about business? News of W2's near-eviction from the Woodward's building, TransLink money problems, and falling housing prices, has us thinking about the social and political change that necessarily accompanies fiscal shifts (and vice versa) in our fair city. 

W2.0 After receiving an eviction notice for November 23, W2 Community Media Arts Society has been given a 90-day stay by the City of Vancouver so that it can restructure its finances. Megaphone quotes Councillor Kerry Jang for their article on the situation: “It [W2 Media Café] wasn’t making any money,” said Jang. “The business model that was there clearly wasn’t working. That’s what our city staff and everyone are trying to figure out now: how to reinvent the space, how to reuse the space in order to make a go of it.” But as the comment section for the article suggests, W2's brand of social development may not fit so neatly into a conventionally profitable business model. Problematic? Sure, but it sounds like Mayor Gregor Robertson is supporting the organization in exploring some creative possibilities for a sustainable business plan, at least for the time being. For a thorough exploration of the complex relationship between the city and W2, check out this Globe and Mail article.
 
Mo' Transit, Mo' Problems? In response to the new proposal for a subway system along the Broadway corridor, Pete McMartin has written a rather existential piece for the Vancouver Sun. In it, he poses a couple of philosophical questions about the meaning of, well, TransLink; he asks "Is [TransLink] an agent of change or reactive to change? Does it create cityscape or service it? Most important, in this time when the effects of global warming are making themselves apparent, is it an environmental agency or merely a people mover?" McMartin argues that we need to start answering these questions in order to move away from car-based transportation infrastructure. He also suggests that the Fraser Valley region should take priority over Broadway for rapid transit given the sheer number of vehicles moving from this area to Vancouver everyday. Your thoughts and feelings?
 
Chilly Housing Market. It appears that just as we head into some more wintery weather, the housing market in the Lower Mainland is cooling off as well. As the Vancouver Sun reports "the number of home sales dropped to 10-year lows in the Vancouver area and average sale prices dipped across the region." Some of us don't need to be told that there could be benefits to a drop in housing prices, but the Vancouver Sun makes it official, reporting that while a further drop in prices will hurt some, it would also boost the economy by encouraging movement to BC by both retirees and first-time homeowners. As with other economic trends only time will tell where these falling prices will take us but we will be keeping a close eye on the developments.
 
At the MOVeum:
 
January 17 - Built City: Reinvest
 
[Image: W2 Woodward's, Perel Gallery. Photo by Kris Krug]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on December 4, 2012 at 6:58 am

This week in MOVments we celebrate the season of colds, flus, and general respiratory discomfort with a selection of news related to that ever-annoying winter symptom: congestion. Whether implementing tools to relieve overcrowded transit systems, promoting creative congregations in public space, or consolidating civic institutions the issues are the same; the city is challenging itself to bring people together while facilitating their fast and efficient movement through space.

Port Mann Progress. Landmark progress has been made in speedy inter-urban travel with the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge on Saturday, December 1. But while the eight new lanes look like they're providing faster commute times for many, ongoing construction on the westside of the bridge continues to cause considerable delays for others. Another minor glitch? An express bus, the first public transit to cross the bridge in over two decades, currently only has stops in Langley and New Westminster, leaving Surrey out of the loop. This understandably has some Surrey residents bent out of shape, not the least of whom is Mayor Dianne Watts who is pushing for a Surrey stop in place of upgrades to an existing exchange hub.

Billion Dollar Ride on Broadway. In other transit news, the city has unveiled a proposal for a subway system along what is currently the busiest bus route in North America, the 99 B-Line. As the Vancouver Sun reports, the seemingly endless line ups associated with the 99 could be a thing of the past if funding can be found for the 2.8 billion dollar project. With the memory of the Canada Line construction in mind, city officials are hoping that by running the proposed system underground problems such as restrictions on turning and loss of trees and parking along the corridor could be effectively avoided.

Block 51 Revisited. Last week we were lamenting the proposed reopening of Block 51 to traffic and with it, the loss of a dynamic, innovative place for Vancouverites to congregate in the downtown core. As the Vancouver Public Space Network reported recently, Vancouver City Council has confirmed that it will allow traffic through the block again until a more comprehensive plan can be made. As the article points out, it's hard to ignore the results of a recent survey that showed tremendous public support for a permanent public square in area. The city seems to be committed to conducting research on the best solutions to traffic problems related to permanently closing the block, with city staff agreeing to report back to Council with findings before summer 2013. Fingers crossed.

Number Crunching. For any of you who wanted detailed numbers on how many staff the city employs (or for that matter, how many old mattresses city garbage workers picked up last year), you've finally got your chance. The city has just released a 177-page budget that offers a wealth of information regarding services, income, and expenditures. Notable for the heritage-minded, the document contains a money-saving proposal for consolidating the historical photographs in the City Archives and Vancouver Public Library's collections into one location. As Frances Bula reports, "The city is reviewing the overlap between the two collections and looking at whether some or all of the archives, possibly the photographs, could be moved to the central [library] branch."

At the MOVeum:

December 6 - Curator's Talk & Tour with Viviane Gosselin
December 8 - Love You Forever Tattoo Parlour
January 25 - Vancouver I Love You But...

[Image: UBC bus stop. Photo courtesy of Tony Chang]

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on November 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm

This week a shout out to a beloved, but long gone butcher shop on Granville got us thinking about instances where the city missed a chance to preserve its social institutions and foster its creative forces. From saying goodbye to a car-free block downtown to a long-awaited report on the Downtown Eastside missing women, there are certainly plenty of things to ponder on the current social and political horizon. However, these do not just represent some missed opportunities, they also offer chances to reflect, critically analyze, and move forward from where we are now.

Block 51. It looks like the pedestrian-only block adjacent to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Robson Street will revert back to its former incarnation as a transit and traffic artery in the city. As the Globe and Mail reports the public space provided by Block 51 has been very popular over the summer but as the winter has set in, it has become much less animated, leading to the decision to open it to traffic again. While this may be the end of a central gathering place in the vicinity for the time being, the city has recognized the vital importance of these kinds of spaces, identifying other areas on Robson, Granville, and Hamilton as potential permanent gathering places.

Missing Voices. Commissioner Wally Oppal has submitted his final report on the investigation of the missing women cases in the Downtown Eastside between 1997 and 2002 and as the Georgia Straight reports, it will be made available to the public in mid-December. However, some have already pointed out some flaws. Kasari Govender of West Coast LEAF stated, “This inquiry was a missed opportunity to include the voices of marginalized women, of marginalized communities, and those who were directly impacted by the subject matter of the inquiry. It perpetuated the very problems it sought to alleviate,” But as the reaction to the report has already shown, many legal organizations, non-profits, and media outlets seem to be poised to continue the conversation, critically reflecting on the ongoing discrimination against women, Downtown Eastside residents, and sex-workers in the city and making their own recommendations.

Dude Chilling Park No Longer Quite So Chill. In case you missed it, Guelph Park in East Vancouver was briefly renamed Dude Chilling Park last Thursday. Artist Viktor Briestensky installed a sign with the new name after being inspired by a sculpture of a reclining man that inhabits the park. As the Province reports, Briestensky's goal was simply to promote intergenerational dialogue using humour. And although the sign was removed early Friday morning, it appears that Briestensky has partially succeeded; an online petition calling for the official renaming of the park is creating quite the buzz online, especially among Internet-savvy Vancouverites. Only time will tell if this ends up being a missed opportunity or an exciting example of art being used to reinvigorate an underused social space. You can check out the petition here

At the MOVeum:

November 28 - Evolving Geographies of Immigration in Vancouver: History and Horizons
December 6 - Curator's Talk & Tour with Viviane Gosselin
December 8 - Love You Forever Tattoo Parlour

[Image: James Inglis Reid Ltd. business card for the Granville Street butcher shop. Museum of Vancouver collection, H2004.12.32]

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on November 20, 2012 at 12:40 am

This week the Illustrated Vancouver blog posted an artist's vision of the Museum of Vancouver building from 1966. Of course when it actually opened in 1968, the museum looked just a little bit different. Unsurprisingly, Vancouver's landscape of shifting expectations is no less visible today. If we look around the city we can find plenty of predictions that haven't turned out quite as we'd anticipated. Read on for some contemporary adjustments to how we might be living, shopping, and doing business in the future.

 
Moving in Together. Chances are that most of us didn't expect to be living with roommates past our 20s (alright, maybe our early 30s). Even the word "roommate" can conjure up negative memories of messy bathrooms and passive aggressive notes. Well, Vancouver Cohousing is providing a different framework for shared living, one that incorporates values like sustainability, community building, and intergenerational bonding. As the Vancouver Courier reports, a cohousing fair last night (November 19) aimed to educate people about a living strategy which organizes separate units around a central shared space used as anything from a communal dining room to a playroom for children. There aren't any cohousing communities in Vancouver at the moment but it looks like we can definitely expect increased interest around the subject.
 
Kingsgate & The Class Divide. For years, what is arguably one of the weirdest malls in the city has provided an eclectic neighbourhood with an eclectic assortment of stores. Now with the new Rize development in the works across the street, Kingsgate Mall is set for redevelopment as a mixed use residential and commercial complex. It's clear that both developers and residents are anticipating a shift in the climate and culture of the neighbourhood, one very much connected to tricky issues of affordability and gentrification. For more on these contentious topics, The Atlantic Cities website recently put out a fascinating article exploring growing class division in the city. As the author Richard Florida suggests, our expectations of "Lotus Land" are quickly diverging from the lived reality: "Even the city widely recognized as the world’s "most livable" cannot escape the growing class polarization of our increasingly spiky and divided world."
 
Social Venture Award. Finally, two Vancouverites may be changing expectations around what it means to do business here. Carol Newell and Joel Solomon of Renewal Partners, a venture capital firm, have just been inducted into the Social Venture Network’s Hall of Fame. Newell and Solomon have invested in businesses like Happy Planet juices and the Small Potatoes Urban Delivery (SPUD) to fulfill their mandate of providing a seed fund for socially aware start-ups. Currently, their Renewal 2 Investment Fund is also giving out larger sums to companies like Seventh Generation, encouraging growth of already established businesses. Congrats, guys!
 
At the MOVeum:
 
 
[Image: Kingsgate Mall sign, 2007. Photo by Greg McMullen]

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