Vancouver makes, shakes, retaliates!
This week’s MOVments have tallied up yvr’s points and prongs from policy to film.
In Mount Pleasant, despite loud controversy, the new Rize development has been approved by city council. This will mean a 19-story development smack in the middle of Mt. Pleasant. OpenFile has curated some great comments from the twittersphere.
Down Broadway at Granville street, the Vancouver Public Space Network transformed a bus shelter into a public message board to house your comments about Vancouver!
In film, the Projecting Change Film Festival is underway and bringing Vancouverites a special panel discussion along with their screening of Miss Representation this Saturday. Simultaneously, our MOV Youth Council will be hard at work editing their films. More on this in late May.
In foliage, nature lovers gathered outside the Van Art Gallery recently to throw a giant flash mob for cherry blossom season. Simultaneously, across the Georgia Straight, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities threw their hands in the air to pass a resolution for the decriminalization of pot! This means the UBCM will vote on this issue later this year.
Lastly, if you’re an aspiring journalist, you’ll appreciate this workshop on Perfecting your Pitch, put on by the Tyee’s Freelance Survival Series.
Many would say that Nature had it right, and that she’d be much better off environmentally speaking, without human interference. However, since we’ve now burned through the industrial revolution and now find ourselves struggling for solutions to house a human population boasting 7-10 billion by 2050, architects, and scientists alike are asking, “Should design imitate nature?”
For the third and final installation of the MOV’s BuiltCity talks (with Architecture Canada), “Nature, Urban Space, & Biomimicry” Thomas Knittel of HOK and Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Science at the David Suzuki Foundation responded with a resounding “Yes!”
With close to 80% of Canadians living in cities, and largest population booms expected right here in Vancouver (and Montreal/Toronto), it’s clear that our developmental policy needs change. As Faisal emphasized in his talk, “with scarce resources and little guidance, municipal governments are charged with developing and enforcing many of the policies and programs necessary to ensure that urban development doesn’t consume what’s left of the natural world closest to home.”
For Thomas, this means moving away from a model of simply reducing harmful developmental practices, towards a model of positive impact. At HOK, they’re focusing on a few key principles, based on examples from the natural world. Take, for example, the delicate bones of a vulture's wing, which can be mimicked in the structural design of a building’s framework to concentrate material where it is needed most, and reduce waste elsewhere.
As exemplified by this orphanage built in Haiti, whose design mimics the function of a forest canopy, HOK calls this process a Fully Integrated System (FIT).
The evening’s lecture was a unique contrast in perspective, pairing Knittel’s practical experience, with Moola’s policy/natural capital point of view.
Pointing to another HOK project in Lavasa, India, Thomas spoke to how, recognizing the ecological performance standards of a region are key to the FIT model of development, which aim to create the best social, economic, and environmental capacity of design. For example, if a desert plant grows in a way which provides a degree of self-shading, water storage, and a balance between overheating and sun collection for transpiration during cool nights, why wouldn’t a building in the desert follow similar principles?
Following the presentations from Knittel and Moola, there was an interactive discussion, moderated by Ray Cole. Questions were raised about the ability to distinguish between simply a ‘beautification’ vs. ‘biodiversity’-enhancing project; audience members wondered what the most important area of policy change to push forward to encourage the practice of biomimicry; and some technical discussion emerged around the limits to a biomimicry-styled design process? Is it simply the next trend? Overall, it was agreed that we cannot place the same design demands on all buildings. Warehouses, schools, factories and houses have different requirements and restraints, exactly the same way ecological life has more and less generous players. A sustainable future must recognize that complexity.
Ray Cole, professor at the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and co-founder of the Green Building Challenge, summed up the evening stating that we as humans have been more demanding than nature itself, and that the positive messaging of biomimicry and ideas of nature for enhancing life is the type of powerful point that will sow seeds for the fundamental will to change.
UP NEXT: While the BuiltCity lecture series has wrapped up for now, the MOV has a stellar lineup of architectural and planning-based dialogue planned with the upcoming SALA Speaks series taking place every Sunday in March at the Museum of Vancouver.
[Photos by Hanna Cho and Gala Milne // Images courtesy Thomas Knittel and Faisal Moola]
Green roofs. In a new video landscape architect Bruce Hemstock discusses the green roof on top of the Vancouver Convention Centre and how it came to be.
There's also a garden on the roof of the main branch of the VPL. It's lesser-known because it's hard to get to and not normally open to the public. The Dependent shows us what's up there.
BC Place. With BC Place set to reopen with its new roof, the Sun looks at the history of the building and the impact it has had on the city.
Light show. A decorative light display on the side of a building is proving controversial in Coal Harbour with neighbours who find it distracting and claim that it damages their view. The controversy calls into question whether the city should be consulting with residents before installing public art.
Yes in my backyard. How to deal with neighbours that are against everything? Pivot Legal Society has created a YIMBY manual for people who want to support developments and social projects in their neighbourhoods.
Walking the city. Daphne Bramham at the Vancouver Sun reflects on a summer spent touring different neighbourhoods around the city with local residents. History, housing, walkability and sense of belonging were continually highlighted as issues for people, regardless of neighbourhood, as well as a sense of pride in the places they lived.
Image: dooq, via flickr
Picnurbia is a pop-up installation of picnic benches and artificial turf at Robson Square as part of VIVA Vancouver. Perhaps installations like this can help us re-evaluate the way we think about public space.
Homelessness. The city's new housing plan reveals that five neighbourhoods outside of the Downtown Eastside will be targeted for the construction of homeless shelters and supportive housing.
Renting. The Tyee's Reporting Fellowships are turning out some good stories: this week an in depth series about renovictions and affordable rental housing in Vancouver. Catch them all here.
Humanitarian architecture. Two Vancouver-based architects are recycling the fabric from the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre's old sail roof into projects for Architecture for Humanity.
Community awards. The City of Surrey has launched the City Awards Program, a variety of awards to recognize people for community spirit, clean energy, urban design and beautification.
Cycling infrastructure. Another update on the Coal Harbour seawall connection: it still sucks for cyclists. A little further down the seawall, installing consistent signage and adequate infrastructure for cyclists at Stanley Park doesn't seem to be a high priority either.
Just who are bike thieves anyway? The Dependent talks to bike thieves and learns about the tools of the trade.
Earthquake preparedness. An engineering report has found that both City Hall and it's data are vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake.
Data mapping. The Vancouver Sun has created a series of interactive maps with data from the 2006 census.
The road not taken. Forty years ago Vancouver and Hamilton shared many similarities. Nicholas Kevlahan takes a detailed look at how they diverged.
Graffiti. The city of Vancouver is reinstating it's anti-graffiti program after a resurgence in tagging around the city. Though the increase in graffiti may not be directly related to the program at all.
Disappearing phones. Merchants in the DTES say payphones are more hassle than they're worth.
Rising seas. BTAworks has released a toolkit that visualizes the effects of climate change on the coastline in Vancouver. One interesting thing is that a rise of even a couple metres in sea level would go a long way toward restoring the original coastline of False Creek.
Book exchange. Members of the Grandview-Woodlands Block Watch are creating community with a book exchange box and community chalk board.
Liveable Laneways is working to transform back alleys into vibrant public spaces with planters, events and open air markets.
Changing City is a blog that tracks new developments in Vancouver.
Before it was home to Canuck Place Hospice the Glen Brae mansion was the home of the Kanadian Klu Klux Klan.
Image: pixeljones, via flickr.
Just how bike-friendly is Vancouver? Researchers at UBC mapped data on several key factors that make streets accommodating to cyclists. The result is a series of 'Bikeability Index' maps.
Spacing Vancouver. Spacing Magazine has partnered with the staff at re:place to launch Spacing Vancouver. We're really excited to see what comes out of this partnership.
Public space. Erin O'Melinn shares some thoughts about Spacing's list of the top ten public spaces in Vancouver and why they are nearly all in the downtown core.
Surveillance. It has come to light that some of the surveillance cameras purchased for the 2010 Olympics were repurposed and put into service during the Stanley Cup playoff games.
Public art. Many of the Vancouver Biennale's public art works will be heading home to their owners between now and the end of this year.
Phonebooth. In response to the disappearance of phone booths in the DTES, Spartacus Books set up their own.
Housing in the DTES. Tenants at the Wonder Rooms in the DTES filed a class-action suit against their landlord for the inhumane living conditions in their suites. City council discussed this week whether to file an injunction to force the landlord to make repairs.
"Old urbanism" on the Fraserlands. A huge new development for 20,000 residents is intended to be a modern Rome or Pompeii on the banks of the Fraser River. Seems an odd choice of comparison but there you go.
Local food. The Food Secure Vancouver Study and Foodtree's mobile app were both launched this week.
Image: Roland Tanglao, via flickr.