January 2012

Posted by: Gala Milne on January 31, 2012 at 12:30 pm

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Citizen mapping, an idea we’ve become very fond of at the MOV, is ‘changing the story of our lives’ according to Spacing magazine. Where traditionally, the way we visualize our surroundings has been left to government entities, community groups are coming together en masse to reconsider the way we value our mapped spaces. Did you contribute to the MOV’s storymap?

For public space fanatics, a map of Vancouver’s pedestrian hotspots would likely garner a lot of interest. The Atlantic Cities shows us what photos can teach us about walkability.

Going out on a limb here, but perhaps increased walkability could also be a starting point to answer Andrew Yan’s question of “How can Vancouver change from a city of strangers into a city of citizens?” The BTA Works researcher observes that just 41% of Vancouver residents were born in BC, and this means finding common ground is a challenge.

Back to Basics? What if each little neighborhood in the city had it’s own hearty bread maker?  Here’s an eye-candy-licious video of a lovely artisanal baker in the Sonoma Valley..

Vancouver’s budget is yours to decide. The City is asking for your opinions on the 2012 operating budget. Kind of nice of them to ask, hey?

In our humble opinion, increased investment into collaborative spaces, like City Studio, where innovative ideas transform waste (literally) into a greener future, would suit us just fine. In tune with this, watch out for a Vancouver Cities Summit spearheaded by the Vision team.

SHOUT-OUT To Illustrated Vancouver, (see adjacent image) for providing many of us at MOV with daily artistic inspiration on Vancouver’s past. We particularly like the images of Hotel Vancouver.

At the MOVeum: NEON Vancouver Curator’s Talk and Tour w/ Joan Seidl - Thursday Feb 2
Around the MOVeum: CREATIVE Mornings @ W2 w/ Gagan Deish  - Friday Feb 3
+ SPACING Magazine release party at Canvas Lounge - Friday Feb 3

[photos via Vancouver Public Space Network & Illustrated Vancouver]

Posted by: Gala Milne on January 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm

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?”

BuiltCity talk at MOVFor 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.”

HOK Biomimicry

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. 

Natural capital stocks

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]

Posted by: Gala Milne on January 24, 2012 at 2:14 am

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Take Down The Giant Sign Now – a demand, yes, but also the name of a very concerned group of residents urging for the removal of the bright and blaring 1500 sq foot signs outside newly minted BC place. At MOV, it sounds very reminiscent of the storyline of our current exhibit, Neon Vancouver Ugly Vancouver. Except we probably won’t be celebrating the anniversary of digital signs in the same nostalgic way we look at Vancouver’s chic old neon signage. Happy birthday, neon tube!

In other land-use matters, things are heating up in Mt Pleasant too. The Rize development is hearing a lot of negative feedback from neighborhood residents worried about the future of affordability in the eastside; a frustration which, apparently, dates back centuries in our fair city.

Token words? A small, yet audacious, mayor and council on Vancouver Island is challenging the current legislation and casting a broad political net for the decriminalization of marijuana. We’d love your thoughts on this! While you’re debating the challenges and benefits, take a listen to up-and-coming, Pleasure Cruise, a brand new local indie-surf rock band. One thing's for sure, this city doesn’t lack artistic merit.

And neither does this museum in London, which is unveiling the world’s largest pieces of cloth made from spider silk.

MOVeum-related event: Re:generation – How we Move our City, Wednesday January 25.

Posted by: Gala Milne on January 17, 2012 at 2:07 am

If you’re anything like us, this week your social media feeds are full of black and white images of Dr. Martin Luther King II, and segments of the “I have a dream” video. At MOV we’re happy to celebrate the birthday of this influential man with the re-posting of an interview with Vancouver’s Derrick O’Keefe and a colleague of Dr. King’s, Jack O’Dell.

Our own living legend, David Suzuki, keeps the fight for equity alive in a letter to the federal Conservatives regarding the northern pipeline project, being pushed through without proper environmental assessment and community collaboration. A controversial issue in a city heavily populated by both industry workers and environmentalists.

…And arts-&-culture-workers! At the MOV we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the provincial Liberals as the decisions over gaming grants and their allocation to arts groups develops. I wonder… would gaming grants cover the costs for a gondola to the museum? Probably not, but it’s a neat (and expensive) idea for the ever-burgeoning life atop Burnaby Mountain.

Participants of a CUP student journalism conference in Victoria drummed up some good material this past weekend, as many were affected by a norovirus outbreak!

Apples to apples? A great podcast from This American Life this week, exposing the inner-workings of your iphone.

And if you’re looking for a way to get to know the Year of the Dragon, Sun Yat Sen gardens has a special exhibition of water dragon artifacts on now.

At the MOVeum: This week: BuiltCity Lecture Series: Nature, Urban Space & Biomimicry – Thursday January 19 // On the radar: History of the Drive – January 26

Posted by: Gala Milne on January 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Horse and buggy illustration (old school transit)New years resolution? Maybe do go for that jog and get your bum muscles prepared for some cycle commuting. Seems BC transit wants to increase our already ridiculously high bus fare rates, while elsewhere, innovative small businesses are figuring out ways to implement a bike sharing system in Vancouver that is conducive to our mandatory helmet laws.

Or – you can just take your laughs while you still can, and ride around public transit with your pants off until they listen!

It might even help you swing some romance in the so-called ‘cruel’ dating world of Vancouver. A recent article in VanMag has facebook and twitter alight with cat vs. dog understandings of what it’s like to find love in the city of glass. Reminds me of those videos we made a few years back citing the MOV as the perfect place for a date. What are your thoughts?

Up North, BC First Nations in Kitimaat Village, Hartley Bay, The Dogwood Initiative, and other so called “radical environmentalists” (as named by the Tories this week), are standing up for the future of their communities and the environment by participating loudly in the Northern Gateway hearings.

Down to the lower mainland, Vancouver Coastal Health is strongly considering the addition of supervised injection services at a number of its clinics.

Lastly, for a touch of mid-week inspiration, check out this rather inspiring list of the top 5 life wishes people regret during palliative care.

At the MOVeum: Come check out Neon Vancouver/ Ugly Vancouver!

(photo credit: B.C. Electric files at the Vancouver Archives.)