Museum of Vancouver program invites public to reimagine public spaces

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The Museum of Vancouver is inviting the public to reimagine and eventually transform the urban landscape as part of a hands-on design program.

The Upcycled Urbanism project includes a series of weekly, guided brainstorming sessions where participants are invited to think creatively about the use of public spaces.

Those visions will then become reality during a daylong, outdoor event this summer when three teams of participants will use large, modular blocks to construct the design ideas for all to see.

Museum spokesperson Charles Montgomery said people sometimes experience a sense of disconnection from their city because of the limited role they play in how public spaces are designed. He said the Upcycled Urbanism program is about engaging people in that culture of design.

“We feel that by giving ourselves, and our partners, and the public permission to play with design, and then build out their visions in public, we can change the culture slightly,” Montgomery told the Straight.

“We’re hoping that by the time we’re done, those of us who participate will feel like we have a right to change our public environments but also to influence what they look like and influence what other people are designing.”

The Museum of Vancouver is organizing the program in partnership with the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine.

The four workshop sessions, taking place on Sundays this month, will give participants the chance to share their design ideas and explore topics including how to get into the mindset of a designer and how people interact in public spaces. The first workshop took place on March 3.

In July, the three main design concepts that emerge from the workshops will be temporarily constructed, one after the other, in a high-traffic, outdoor public space. The design teams will each assemble their environment using custom-shaped blocks of recycled expanded polystyrene, a relatively light but sturdy material used in construction. Details about the event location and time have yet to be announced.

Bill Pechet, a UBC architecture school lecturer involved in organizing the program, said 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.

The design workshops are taking place at the Museum of Vancouver [1100 Chestnut St.] and are open to the public for the cost of general admission. The next workshop is on March 10 at 2 p.m.

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Hazlit
One of the most important components of great outdoor urban space is beautiful architecture. Architectural eye-candy makes sitting, walking and cycling more attractive. Architects and developers, however, seem uninterested in the extra expenditures this requires. Short term thinking! Eye-candy makes the city green!
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