Posted by: jillianglover | April 4, 2013

Upcycled Urbanism events conclude, but stay tuned for the final product this summer!

BY Mary Wu

Over the month of March, the Museum of Vancouver put on a series of workshops called Upcycled Urbanism, to engage citizens in reimagining Vancouver public spaces. And of course, VPSN got involved, partnering up with the MoV and SALA to lead Block Talk on March 17th, the third workshop in the series. Even with the marvelously sunny weekends we had in March, Vancouverites came out in droves to get creative, play with polystyrene blocks (recycled from the Port Mann Bridge!), and — in the words of SALA’s Blair Satterfield — “hack the city.”

What do we mean by “hack the city?” How do we redefine what streets mean to the public, find the wiggle room between the amazing, epic ideas and the financial and permit restrictions, and modify what we can? At the final Upcycled Urbanism workshop on March 24th, we were encouraged to take an oft-used street in the downtown core, and use our modular blocks and colourful markers to imagine structures that encourage citizens to interact with spaces that are otherwise just a commute corridor.

The result? This theme of interaction got groups thinking about folks like the head-down, smartphone-focused downtown commuter. Designs emerged with ideas to draw their attention upwards with spine-esque roof structures, or stop for a moment to observe a pond in the street where people can leave messages in bottles. One team even built an interactive wall with pre-set spaces that you have to fit through, redefining a wall as something simply to keep things in or out.

As we completed the walk-around at the end to see each group’s demonstration, the energy and excitement leading up to July’s public design and build event kept growing. We can’t wait to see what ideas from Upcycled Urbanism are incorporated into the final structure.

The next steps is a final debrief meeting with all participants later this month, followed by planning for the build on July 13th. The site of the build is going to be Granville Street between Robson and Georgia where the now vacant Sears is.

Stay connected through MoV’s Twitter or Facebook, or keep an eye on VPSN for all the details!

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