Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Where's the Square?" design idea competition

Another imported post from Performing Vancouver, this one by Melanie Shim on the lack of public space in Vancouver:

If you did not already get the idea, I am an advocate for Vancouver's own public space/square/etc. Public squares are not only places for debate, or social change; they are also places where citizens socialize to foster a sense of community, to come together with or without purpose.

In 2008 (and lasting until September 2009), the Vancouver Public Space Network held "Where's the Square?", a design idea competition for Vancouver's own public square. Over 100 design teams signed up and a total of 54 entries were submitted, with the possibility of winning two awards: Jury's Selection and People's Choice.

Vancouverites were encouraged to submit their vote via online or at the various public events held during the competition.

The jury consisted of six members, including Lance Berelowitz, author of Dream City and Yosef Wosk, professor and director of the Interdisciplinary Programs in Continuing Studies at SFU.

The design that won the Jury Selection award was called "The Band." Submitted by Mark Ashby Architecture & Greenskins Lab, the concept was relatively simple: "To create a square specific to Vancouver, the traditional square is "unbundled" and reassembled in a linear space edged with public institutions. The combined public square is programmed sequentially by each institution in turn."

In other words, the public square would be a boardwalk-esque structure, connecting what the design team deemed to be some of Vancouver's essential institutions. The band would start at the intersection of Robson and Homer, then linking the VPL, the CBC, BC Place Stadium, the proposed new location for the VAG and finally to the False Creek seawall.

If you want to learn more about the competition, including information on the other winning designs, visit the Where's the Square? website.

Image from The Vancouver Public Space Network


Peter Dickinson said...

Thanks for this, Melanie. I agree with you about the importance of civic public spaces. Like an audience for a performance, a random collection of bodies in a common space asks us to consider the ways we are obliged to each other beyond defined or chosen connections like family or nation or social milieu.

Any idea if the plan will actually see the light of day?

Sofia said...


I am currently studying Industrial Design at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Before studying Industrial Design I have also studied architecture and contemporary dance in Sweden. I believe it is important to try as much as possible, to work interdisciplinary between different disciplines. Therefor I am very curious of how you think the cultural scene in Vancouver can be improved and how interaction can be part of our daily environment.

In my studio project I am doing an research upon "Performative Space". This is a great opportunity to explore how movement can create space and a bodily experience. In my research I am interested in how the body organisation and movements can affect the spatial perception, the spatial experience and the spatial representation. My hope is to be able to take two different sites, studying physical pattern, changing connections and use those parameters to create an spatial installation on site, that can manipulate and articulate the space.

I would be very grateful If you would have the time to answer these questions:

1. Where do you think there is a need for interaction and performative spaces?
2. In what way do you think that a designed space can engage and be an experience? Can it have a storytelling effect?
3. Do you have any suggestions on how to make people more aware of the spaces they move through?

I really appreciate your help. If you have any other feedback I would be very grateful. Please send the answers to my e-mail: sofia.c.adolfsson@gmail.com

Best regards,

Sofia Adolfsson