Taken this Sunday aboard the Elision.
From left to right: Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, downtown, Burrard Bridge, Mount Baker, Vanier Park.
Taken this Sunday aboard the Elision.
From left to right: Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, downtown, Burrard Bridge, Mount Baker, Vanier Park.
Found on the corner of Abbott St and W Hastings St, in a parking lot adjacent to the Woodward’s development.
The proposed rezoning details are reflective of Vancouver’s Rental 100 Policy:
The policy provides relaxations to developers who choose to build 100% secured market rental housing in defined locations. This incentive forms part of the City’s 2012-2021 Housing and Homelessness Strategy, which “identified the need for an additional 16,000 new units of rental housing, of which 5,000 are from purpose-built market rental units.”
In addition, the Strategy “sets aggressive targets for social housing (5,000 units by 2021) and supportive housing to end homelessness (2,900 units by 2021). The City is currently revising the Housing Strategy, noting targets exceeding those set in the current plan.
The Rental 100 Policy and it’s predecessor have been contentious – as illustrated by the court battle between the City and the West End Neighbours Residents Society. There is an open house for the West Hastings Rezoning from 5 to 8 pm on Thursday, January 26, 2017 at Vancouver Community College, Room 240.
What is Canadian architecture? Thursday night’s book launch of Canada: Modern Architectures in History, by Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe and Michelangelo Sabatino, hosted by Infom Interiors, was enlightening. The speaker (Liscombe), noted his hesitation to write a book that categorizes architecture by the national borders within which it is found – architectural ideas and climatic conditions have little concern for the invisible lines separating one country from another.
Liscombe continued by suggesting the classification of architecture by country was in fact a worthwhile pursuit, as the differences in political forces within borders can cause unique architectural elements to form in ways not found anywhere else.
July 1st marks the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, a small dimple in roughly 13,000 years of human cohabitation with this land. What will the idiosyncrasies of our confederation’s next 150 years bring our architecture? Tipis, long houses, Pier 21, Banff Springs Hotel, the Canadian Parliament Buildings, the Ogden Federal Elevator, the Spiral Tunnel, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Habitat ’67, Toronto City Hall, the Museum of Civilization, Seabird Island Community School, Ghost Laboratory: what is Canadian architecture?
“The gentrification of Chelsea was under way long before the High Line, although the park certainly helped to establish as a credible residential neighbourhood an area that previously had little open space and no park.” – Sarah Williams Goldhagen, the architecture critic for The New Republic. This article ran in the September 2, 2010 issue of the magazine.
Having attended Wednesday night’s presentation on Northeast False Creek featuring James Corner, I left with mixed feelings. The draft design of the park provides a significant number of desirable public amenities, however the looming question of affordability hangs like a shadow over all new developments in Vancouver – even parks.
A park loaded with attractive features, designed by a world-renowned and award-winning firm, will inexorably cause a rise in adjacent land values. Without an adequate housing strategy in place this project may end up inadvertently exacerbating an existing problem. The NEFC draft area plan touches on this issue, suggesting 200-300 units of new social housing units be built in place of the viaducts along Main Street and 20% of new residential floor area be delivered as social housing. By comparison, the Woodward’s development (another significant intervention in the city’s fabric, built nearby in 2010) created 200 units of below-market affordable units (roughly 25% social housing by residential floor area), which did not compensate for the gentrification that continued in its wake.
James Corner described Northeast False Creek as what could be Vancouver’s “most central” park – as it is easier to access for citizens who don’t live on the peninsula. Surrounded by so many growing communities, transit nodes, and the sea wall, this area is choice for a park, regardless of the circumstances. Cities should be affordable and have excellent public spaces. In this light, I offer some remarks about elements of the park:
For those interested in future events involving Northeast False Creek, there is one at the Vancouver Public Library on June 13, and another at the Sun Wah Centre on June 15. For those with comments on the park, a survey is available here until June 30. For more information, the City’s Northeast False Creek website is here.
Having just finished reading The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, I was struck by how much remains relevant today, even though it was published in 1975. The book is a biography of Robert Moses, the legendary and polarizing New York city planner who controlled various government offices (up to twelve at one point!) from 1924 to 1968, a span of 44 years. Moses displayed an unparalleled aptitude for gaining and leveraging power, which he frequently abused to build the infrastructure and housing of New York in his image – which (spoiler alert) relied heavily on the private automobile. For a sense of magnitude, Moses built 669 km of parkways and 13 bridges.
At 1162 pages long, I will spare the reader from a comprehensive review, although I would recommend that this book is compulsory reading for anyone who is interested in how we became so reliant upon the automobile. What follows are two excerpts which are particularly salient when compared to the Massey Bridge project, a local example of this struggle, of which there are already a treasure trove of articles posted on Price Tags.
It was during the early 1920’s that such traffic first overwhelmed New York; in 1924 and 1925 and 1926, the public reacted with indignation and protest against the jams in which – seated in the vehicles that had promised them new freedom – they found themselves imprisoned instead. Traffic was news, big news; clockings* were a front-page staple. By the late 1920’s, however, a kind of numbness – measurable by a slackening in angry letters-to-the-editor and campaign statements by both-ears-to-the-ground politicians – was setting in. Psychologists know what happens to rats motivated by mild electric shocks or the promise of a food reward to get out of the maze when the maze is excessively difficult to get out of; for a while, their efforts to find an escape become more and more frantic, and then they cease, the creatures becoming sullen, then listless, suffering apathetically through shock or hunger rather than making further efforts that they believe will be useless. People caught in intolerable traffic jams twice a day, day after day, week after week, month after month, began after some months to accept traffic jams as part of their lives, to become hardened to them, to suffer through them in dull and listless apathy. The press, responding to its readers’ attitude, ran fewer hysterical congestion stories, gave fewer clockings. A city editor seeing a couple of reporters with their feet up on their desks on a slow Friday afternoon found other make-work than sending them out to discover how long it took to get from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel to the Lincoln Tunnel. Only in editorial columns – written, it sometimes seems, by men selected through a Darwinian process in which the vital element for survival is an instant and constant capacity for indignation and urgency – did the indignation and urgency endure. Traffic was still news, but it was no longer big news.
*Note: clocking refers to travel time to the Lincoln Tunnel from various locations
Caro, Robert A. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1975. Part VI: The Lust for Power Chapter 39: The Highwayman P.912
Highways competed with parallel mass transit lines, luring away their customers. Pour public investment into the improvement of highways while doing nothing to improve mass transit lines, and there could be only one outcome: those lines would lose more and more passengers; those losses would make it more and more difficult for their owners to sustain service and maintenance; service and maintenance would decline; the decline would cost the lines more passengers; the loss in passengers would further accelerate the rate of decline; the rate of passenger loss would correspondingly accelerate – and the passengers lost would do their travelling instead by private car, further increasing highway congestion. No crystal ball was needed to foretell such a result; it had already been proven, most dramatically perhaps in New Jersey, where the Susquehanna Railroad has lost over two-thirds of its passengers in the ten years following the opening of the George Washington Bridge, but also in New York, where the New York Central had been hit hard by the Triborough Bridge, and the Long Island Rail Road had watched more passengers drift away each time a new Moses parkway opened. No crystal ball was needed, therefore, to foretell the end result of Moses’ immense new highway construction proposal, coupled as it was with lack of any provision whatsoever for public transit: it could not possibly accomplish its aim, the alleviation of congestion. It could only make congestion, already intolerable, progressively worse. His program was self-defeating. It was doomed to failure before it began. It just didn’t make sense.
Caro, Robert A. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1975. Part VI: The Lust for Power Chapter 39: The Highwayman P.897
Last year, during a Museum of Vancouver lecture held to honour the 30th anniversary of Expo ’86, Bruno Freschi briefly mentioned that Expo Centre’s geodesic sphere was intended to perform as a massive outdoor screen. Coordinating with the teams behind Jumbotron and OMNIMAX, a workable design was presented but unfortunately did not proceed in the period leading up to Expo.
Footage provided courtesy of the Province of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum item number V1990:09/41
I conducted an interview with Bruno to talk about the design on Vancouver is Awesome. Some excerpts from the article are provided below:
JB: If you could make any tweaks to the design of the Expo Centre today what would you make?
BF: I would add the skin back because here’s the other side of it – it’s social architecture. One of the elements of that sphere is that it is a lantern to East Vancouver. Now, Vancouver still today has this West and East Main Street divide. The Sphere was a “signaletic icon trying to create a bridge to East Vancouver. This was that magic lantern, with public space around it for people to sit around and watch stuff. It would have been a hit during Expo and Post-Expo. It could have been a fun legacy in the public domain of the waterfront.
JB: You mention the Jumbotron acting as building dematerialization, what do you imagine playing on that screen?
BF: Anything you could do on a screen you could do there. You could run movies free to the world, or it could be commercials (which is dangerous). One can imagine live global events being broadcast to the public in open public space, I told you the little story about the projections on the sides of buildings; I was always struck by that kind of phenomenon because the building goes away and you are in the ennui of the movie, or whatever the projection is. All decoration in history tries to do that. If you study the Baroque world: Borromini, Bernini, all those guys – you discover that they are interested in that subject of dematerialization and illusion. Here we could have done it as intentional public media in the public domain.
Is it too late to resurrect a 30+ year old idea and clad the geodesic sphere in exterior screens today? Would the public be in favour of the various installations that could be programmed onto the sphere? Would commercial interests dominate its use or could the Signage By-Law limit advertisements?
Would there be outcry against light pollution? The lights from the GM pavilion had to be shut off due to their brightness, although today we have the lights from BC Place Stadium.
The full article is available here.
Some people go to the beach when they are on vacation and some people go on a pilgrimage to look at buildings. This past March, my wife Errin and I blazed through Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Koya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Naoshima, Teshima, and Kobe in a warp-speed love letter written to the best of Japan’s art, architecture, and urban planning. Below are collected a few choice photographs of the trip that illustrate some of our most noteworthy findings.
Millennials have a steep hill to climb to make it in Vancouver, with crushing student debt, rising housing prices, and increased struggles in the job market serving as three prime examples. To make ends meet in such conditions, we Millennials have to find ways to be efficient with our time throughout our busy day – and Dominoes Pizza struck gold in 2016 with an App that, once pressed, gives you 10 seconds to not order a pizza.
You read that correctly. Once opened, the app uses a pre-selected pie as your assumed order and automatically pays from your credit card if you don’t cancel within 10 seconds.
This company has found a way to give time back to Millennials – time best spent fighting for a way to keep calling this city home. We don’t have a hot second for pizza.
A close friend of mine from my days at the University of Waterloo’s Civil Engineering program is now completing his Master’s degree, with a focus on concrete. Jeffrey Ianni, P.Eng, describes a way to reduce carbon emissions in concrete production by up to 15%:
Concrete is the most used building material in the world. In the face of rising CO2 emissions due to human development and increasing global populations, any effort to find material efficiency can contribute to the solution for attaining global sustainability as a species.
In 2007, CO2 emissions from cement production represented 4.5% (377 million metric tons) of the global CO2 releases. Current concrete supply practice typically uses only two grades of aggregate: fine and coarse, causing “gap graded” or “poorly graded” concrete pours.
“Well graded” aggregates can save up to 15% of cement paste required. Therefore, aggregate selection can potentially reduce 15%*4.5% = 0.675% of global CO2 emissions.
The above image represents what “well graded” aggregate looks like: a perfect amount of every size of stone from sand to pebble. Well graded aggregate can reduce porosity, permeability, and shrinkage, which improves performance and durability. It also makes for a more consistent finish, which I hear architects love. Furthermore, A reduction in cement content can lower crack vulnerability, making concrete less susceptible to corrosive damage and future repairs, which reduces the life-cycle CO2 costs of concrete and litigation costs due to failed concrete.
If you are an Architect on a project and you can’t get around using concrete, you can require your contractor to provide this kind of aggregate to reduce on emissions. Concrete with exposed aggregate finishes illustrate whether or not the pour was “well graded”; I would love to have included a photo of what “well graded” concrete looks like, but its use in the field is exceedingly rare due to the aggregate industry primarily supplying mostly two sizes of stone to contractors. This could conceivably be addressed by changing our energy codes.
As the son of a musician who has played in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for over 30 years, I couldn’t help plug this article from Wired. The future of classical music and the spaces in which we experience it may change forever because of an Uber-meets-travelling-symphony hybrid venture called Groupmuse:
Each Groupmuse consists of two 25-minute sets of instrumental music: the first set is always from the classics, and the second is up to the performers. “We’ve had Dvorak and then string quartet arrangements of Guns and Roses, we’ve had Chopin on the piano and then Brazilian choro music,” says Bodkin.
Professional musicians and those studying in conservatories can upload samples to a Groupmuse profile, which an internal team approves. Next, the Groupmuse team pairs performers with hosts who volunteer to host strangers and musicians in their home: a soloist for 10 people, a quartet for a house that can fit 50 listeners. Around 20 Groupmuse shows happen across the country every week, mostly in Boston, New York, Seattle and the Bay Area. Groupmuse suggests each attendee pays $10 for the show; musicians go home with an average of $160.
Added interest in the medium could provide financial stability for musicians and could provide opportunity for more interesting and substantial collaborations.
This image comes courtesy of local artist Artistically_Unstable:
AU’s work is very punny, set in Vancouver, and uses the medium of doodling as a method of injecting a few harmless and nostalgic laughs into a rainy west coast afternoon. If you are interested in AU’s work you can refer to his Instagram.
Photograph taken this Monday afternoon, with the poster in the foreground likely put up by The Chinatown Youth Coalition during their SAVE CHINATOWN Block Party held that same afternoon. The event aimed to oppose the third attempt by Beedie Development Group to rezone 105 Keefer and 544 Columbia Street.
The following is a media release from the Coalition:
May 12, 2016
Chinatown youth leaders oppose 105 Keefer rezoning application; Call for halt – and checks and balances – to new development through social impact study
Vancouver, B.C. – The Chinatown Youth Coalition is calling for temporary halt to all new market development project applications in Chinatown – including the current revised rezoning application for 105 Keefer – until a social impact study is conducted. The Coalition believes the current level of unchecked development is destabilizing the neighbourhood by threatening the viability of small ethnic businesses and affordable housing options for vulnerable Chinese and other residents, especially seniors.
The full media release can be read here.
I have really enjoyed my week on Price Tags and I hope you have too! For my last article as guest editor I have been weighing some thoughts about the form and material of architecture in our city. I have noticed that certain forms and materials breed a sense of attachment to Vancouver and the West Coast. Consider how you feel when you sense cedar, old growth timbers, salmon, local granite or sandstone, copper roofs (sorry, the Sun Tower is just teal paint!), rain, or a long house. What similarities do these have with each other? Can we learn anything that we can apply to architectural design?
A recent book, titled Vancouver Matters edited by Christa Min, James Eidse, Lori Kiessling, and Joey Giaimo, investigates a collection of materials and moments novel to Vancouver in “a study of the city’s urban discourse to see how it can be changed to help Vancouver live up to its legend”. I highly recommend that local designers should read this book. City of Glass by Douglas Coupland follows a similar trajectory: identifying important and intangible aspects of the city.
I have continued the themes of these books with my own research. As part of my exploration I made a series of “cognitive maps” in an attempt to identify what captures the essence of our city. I have attached a few related images from my work below:
In an extension of this research, I attempted to map some of these moments onto two unsolicited, speculative designs for the Vancouver Art Gallery (with the assumption that the project will go forward at Larwill Park). My first design was inspired by the work of architect Alvar Aalto, a master of evoking a shared memory in his home country of Finland. The design included local andesite and copper (inspired by the Hotel Vancouver and Marine Building), with cedar interiors and sandstone floors, logs, tall conifers, and dappled forest light.
The second design was a challenge to the weakest characteristics of the city. A tower with minimal glass, artists-in-residence sharing floors with market units, no poor doors, a shared lobby, a penthouse dedicated to the art gallery, a diverse public realm electrified by the arts scene, and most importantly (for me) an institution well positioned to highlight a progressive urban agenda through the medium of art.
I hope some of my writing has got you thinking about our architectural scene in Vancouver and its prospective future. Best,
Recently, a number of developer–sponsored articles have surfaced on Vancitybuzz. Sponsored content is certainly not a new phenomenon, however its advent within this particular news source gives me pause to reflect.
Vancitybuzz is the largest digital publication in Western Canada, and has over two million monthly unique visitors (many of whom are young). VCB is uniquely postured to monopolize itself as the go-to news source for our next generation, and this leads me to speculate on how we will use the news to perceive our city in the future.
At the moment, no major publication in the city has managed to elevate itself to a point where one can expect consistent, critical reviews of architecture or homes in our city. The news often appears entirely controlled by the real-estate industry; one need only take a cursory glance at The Vancouver Sun’s Homes section to read between the lines. Is it not suspicious that Architecture is a subsection of Business on Vancitybuzz?
Where will people turn to in the future for the dissemination of critical discussion towards our urban arena?
An interesting article discussing pedestrians distracted by their cell phones and the automotive industry was found courtesy of Ian Roberston:
The story goes on to propose that smartphone manufacturers should be held responsible for creating a product that endangers people’s safety when they’re on foot. Not, you know, the companies that make cars that hit and kill the people.
-Alissa Walker, Gizmodo
The recent opening of a George Costanza themed bar in Melbourne, Australia got me to thinking about Vancouver’s relatively pedestrian café and bar scene. Vancouver does have its fair share of flavourful establishments (a few come to mind, including our wildly successful cat café, a late-night grilled-cheese hole in the wall, dining in the dark, and back alley tacos), however…
Across the Pacific Ocean, our neighbour Japan is crushing all of the competition when it comes to zany cafés and bars. There are so many, in fact, that I am finding it impossible to create a comprehensive list. Here are a few worthy of consideration: an owl café, maid cafés, a toilet café, a bunny café, a back to the future café, a cuddling café, a café between train tracks, a goat café, a ninja café, a reptile café, and a falcon café. I do not necessarily suggest that some (or any) of these might be worth transposing to Vancouver, however it does reveal that we could be a lot more imaginative when it comes to designing our most outlandish dining experiences.
Can the readers of Price Tags imagine any unforeseen opportunities to add whimsical establishments to the Vancouver scene? Personally I would love to install a night club between the two SkyTrain tracks. Perhaps as part of the expansion down Broadway a courageous club owner on Granville could pack up and move in? It would certainly liven up the commute as you scream through on the last train.
To indulge my imagination one more time: during the closing of The Cannery, Port Metro Vancouver investigated the possibility of lifting the restaurant onto a barge and floating it to a new location. Consider an alternate universe where the cannery was left floating derelict (or in use!) along Burrard Inlet for the next thirty years… Does this sound familiar?
Hello readers! If you were excitedly looking forward to reading the last two days worth of interviews with architects, planners, and academics, I have bad news. First, I was under the impression that my tenure as guest editor here at Price Tags was six days long, rather than seven. Second, one of my interviewees had to unfortunately cancel their interview. Do not worry, though! I have other content remaining for today and tomorrow…
Out of curiosity, if I were to conduct an interview in the future do the readers of Price Tags have requests?
What does Vancouver need to do to become the greenest city by 2020? From what I have seen around the globe, I have had my doubts that we will reach this deadline. Not being one to jump to conclusions, I asked an expert in the field of sustainability: Anonymous. Anonymous has generously taken the time out of their busy schedule to offer their opinion on the matter:
Although Vancouver City Council has come forward with The Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, the proposed changes are underwhelming if they are serious about earning that title. As admirable and important as the plan is, it can only be considered a first draft or starting point. In order to propel Vancouver to greenest city status, entire shifts in ideology need to occur, and that full-scale level of change cannot be achieved within 4 years.
Consider Nordic cities, such as Oslo and Helsinki. These cities have been designed to focus on cyclists and pedestrians, rather than being car-centric like the majority of North America. This kind of planning has launched most of Scandinavia ahead of Vancouver in terms of sustainability, in particular the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Further still, Copenhagen has promised to be fossil fuel free by 2050, an admirable milestone not yet reached by or even promised by any other metropolis.
Compared to other cities, like New York, or Beijing, Vancouver has made significant strides in many regards. Most notably, Vancouver has become the first city in North America to set green building standards, ensuring all future buildings meet strict environmental standards. City council has also significantly increased support for local food production, enacted water conservation measures, continued to use renewable energy sources (Hydroelectric), promoted zero waste initiatives, and supported sustainable transportation initiatives, but it is larger scale shifts that are required, as well as significant investment and monetary resources.
In order to fully earn the title Vancouver seeks, council needs to focus on:
- Rethinking the way we think about and understand energy
- Completely ‘decarbonizing’ every aspect, from industrial to the personal level
- Divesting from fossil fuels
- Reshaping the multinational corporation-based food system
- Reinventing our transit systems
No city has attempted these feats, with the exception of Copenhagen’s fossil fuel divestment. Aiming to achieve all five of these goals by 2020 is too ambitious and would likely result in confusion and backlash. A plan for educating the broader population on the goals and importance of meeting the targets, as well as a logical path to getting there within a realistic timeframe must be developed prior to action to ensure success. Only then can we realistically consider striving to become the greenest city in the world.
I’m sitting in Prado Café with architect Patrick Reid Stewart. Patrick, whose hereditary name is Luugigyoo (which means Fish Already in the Creek) is a member of Nisga’a Nation and practices as an architect with his office Patrick Stewart Architect situated on Tzeachten First Nation within Stó:lō Traditional Territory. Patrick is an exceptional architect, scholar, and one of a very few licensed First Nations architects in Canada. He was kind enough to join me for a candid interview about his work and opinions on architecture in Vancouver and at large.
JB: What is the work you are doing with the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC)?
PS: I chair the Indigenous Communities Sustainable Design Task Force, an initiative of the RAIC. The impetus for this Task Force began with Allan Teramura, President of the RAIC. He recently went north to a First Nations community and the permanent housing he found there reminded him of photos he had seen of the Canadian internment camp his family lived in during World War II. This Task Force is going to advocate for a much better housing stock for First Nations communities. Our first steps include developing a work plan to conduct an analysis of the on-reserve housing stock. We hope to present some preliminary findings at the RAIC June 2016 Festival of Architecture, held in Nanaimo.
JB: Can you tell me about the footwear company, creenisgaa clothing, that you run with your wife Linda Lavallee?
PS: It began very organically; my wife developed the skills of beading and sewing out of necessity. The original footwear Linda made were in the style of a Cree wraparound which her family had made for generations. We experimented with the design and have developed the boot we now make. We have found an appetite for authentically made indigenous footwear that is crafted and sourced locally. Linda makes the boots; our son provides the Cree designs and I provide the Nisga’a artwork for the boots. Many prominent Aboriginal actors and musicians have been wearing our footwear which has been wonderful publicity.
We are heading to fashion shows in Melbourne Australia in March and Saskatoon and Hollywood this Fall. We have also been invited as feature designers to Cambrian College in Sudbury in April. We are also currently finishing a pair of boots that have been acquired by the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton for their Grand Opening in 2017. You can view our boots at www.creenisgaa.com
JB: Your recent Dissertation, Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge : Together we will build a village investigated how the culture of an Indigenous architect informs their practice of architecture. Further, you identified the need for support for Indigenous knowledge and students in schools of architecture. The work has received a lot of media attention. How has the reception been?
PS: The media attention has been awesome. It has provided me with opportunities to speak to different audiences. I have spoken at the School of Community Planning and the Department of Educational Studies at UBC, the Summer Indian Festival in Vancouver and Laurentian University School of Architecture.
I have now been asked to write chapters for a few books: three chapters on Indigenous Architecture and one on Alternative Dissertations.
I recently participated in a gratitude project which allowed me to reflect on just how many people influenced my life, focusing on my life as a foster child. I am also working with a colleague on a book about our lives as foster children crossing paths in the same house and how startled we were when introduced decades later at university, now in the same room, both working on PhD’s.
JB: Can you describe what the results of your thesis would look like if realized in the practice of today’s firms? What does indigenous knowledge look like in city building?
PS: We operate in a colonial system, in which our ideas themselves are colonized. I begin a project with a conversation about this with my clients, and introduce ideas to investigate what is best for their community at this time. I try to act as a facilitator of a community’s shared history. In a city like Vancouver, people come from all over. I try to recognize that there is a local First Nations culture which hosts those who come from elsewhere and share the history they have salvaged from brutal colonial interventions such as the school system.
Indigenous knowledge involves the acknowledgement of indigenous culture in design. This may seem difficult, especially for practitioners who are not members of a First Nations community. It is important to approach each project with respect. You cannot bulldoze your way in using indigenous knowledge or you will appropriate the culture you wish to support.
A modern city designed and built on Indigenous Knowledges would grow organically respecting the cultural markers that inhabits the relationship with the landscape and the natural environment. It would grow from the millennia of knowledge concerning the reciprocity, responsibility, reflection, relevance and redistribution between the inhabitants and the environment.
JB: Reconciliation in Vancouver has resulted in such change as the use of the statement that we are on the unceded territory of the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. What does reconciliation look like in city building?
PS: This phrase is a sign of respect, but not reconciliation. The statement establishes western culture as a visitor on these territories, however a visitor must respect their host. It concept recognizes the situation but does not fix Nations that have been wreaked by colonization.
People in my Nisga’a community have roles, which results in a stronger sense of community. Generally, people in Vancouver do not have roles. The whole idea of reconciliation is founded upon a construction of Western Canada to reconcile its own guilt. It is impossible to make up for past wrongs, however we need to get on with our own Nation building despite ongoing colonization. If there can be meaningful reconciliation it will be a process that will require strong attention to what has to happen from now on and more participation from our Indigenous Nations. There are 94 calls to action contained in the final report of the Truth and reconciliation Commission that currently sit on shelves gathering dust. What does that say about the process?
JB: Defining Vancouver’s heritage architecture has been a recent topic of discussion. What does heritage architecture mean to you?
PS: Many people consider Vancouver’s heritage architecture to be limited to the remainder of Neoclassical and Victorian architecture that has survived today. This type of construction reaches barely more than 100 years ago, while human habitation has been documented within Metro Vancouver for example as at Xá:ytem east of the City of Mission as far as 9000 years ago. Most people are unaware of its existence.
JB: Do you have any particular soapboxes when it comes to architecture in Vancouver?
PS: Vancouver has a lack of affordable housing. We have over 2000 homeless and one of the least affordable housing stocks in the world. This problem has been virtually ignored and has not been dealt with the seriousness it deserves. We need more federal and provincial government political will to build more affordable housing; there has not been subsidized housing since 1993. We need to let our politicians know this is a priority.
JB: If you could make any intervention in Vancouver’s built form what would it be?
PS: I would reconstitute old First Nations village sites. There were villages in Stanley Park and throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. There is no recognition of the destruction and theft that occurred here. Returning place names such as renaming The Juan de Fuca as the Salish Sea is a beginning and something that should continue. Not that names will make up for what has been lost. A recognition and education of what has been lost needs to happen, much like what the holocaust museums signify for Jewish losses, I would introduce a genocide museum for the loss of Indigenous culture. There is no such facility at this time in Vancouver.
JB: Do you have anything exciting in process at your office you can share with us?
PS: Respecting the privacy of my clients, I can say we are currently working on a number of exciting projects for a number of Aboriginal organizations in Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. They range from multi-unit residential to commercial to community-based assets.