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LEARNING FROM NO[W]HERE Narratives of a Forest


Narratives of a Forest

On the cover: Quathiaski Forest Learning Adventures Image by the Author


Narratives of a Forest

Part II Learning from No[w]here: Narratives of a Forest GP II Brittany Shalagan April 26, 2019 Advisors: Joe Dahmen, Isabel Kunigk


Table of Contents Part II - Learning from No[w]here: Narratives of a Forest 50

04 | Executive Summary


05 | Site Context

51 53 57

5.1 The Island 5.2 The Neighbourhood + Site 5.3 Project Background

06 | What's in a Forest? Design Solution 60

61 6.1 Guiding Principles 67 6.2 Playful Imagination 73 6.3 Slow Ponder 79 6.4 Rapid Prototype 85 Work Cited


Narratives of a Forest

List of Figures Fig. 37 Narratives of a Forest: The Raven Midden 49 Fig. 38 Quadra Island Context 52 Fig. 39 Quathiaski Cove Village Plan 53 Fig. 40 Quathiaski Cove Neighbourhood Context 54 Fig. 41 Quathiaski Cove Aerial 56 Fig. 42 Snohetta Charette for Study Build 57 Fig. 43 Project Timeline 58 Fig. 44 Quathiaski Forest 59 Fig. 45 People + Stories: Design Guidelines 61 Fig. 46 Narrative Connections Map 62 Fig. 47 People, Materials, Craft: Narratives of a Place 62 Fig. 48 Micro + Macro: Design Guidelines 63 Fig. 49 Nodes of Initiation: Analogue Experience 64 Fig. 50 Networks of Negotiation: Digital Toolkit 64 Fig. 51 Roots of a Place Sketch 64 Fig. 52 Digital Toolkit Cues 65 Fig. 53 Plan 66 Fig. 54 Local Story: The Planets 67 Fig. 55 Playful Imagination Concept Sketches 67 Fig. 56 Playful Imagination: Plan 68 Fig. 57 Playful Imagination: Section Detail 68 Fig. 58 Playful Imagination: Immersive View 69 Fig. 59 Playful Imagination: Concept Images 70 Fig. 60 Playful Imagination: Digital View 71 Fig. 61 Playful Imagination: Digital Diagrams 72 Fig. 62 Local Story: The Raven Midden 73 Fig. 63 Raven Tree Sketch 73 Fig. 64 Slow Ponder: Plan 74 Fig. 65 Slow Ponder: Diagram 74 Fig. 66 Slow Ponder: Immersive View 75 Fig. 67 Slow Ponder: Concept Images 76 Fig. 68 Slow Ponder: Digital View 77 Fig. 69 Slow Ponder: Digital Diagrams 78 Fig. 70 Local Story: The Cottonwood Tree 79 Fig. 71 Rapid Prototype: Concept Sketches 79 Fig. 72 Rapid Prototype: Plan 80 Fig. 73 Rapid Prototype: Section 80 Fig. 74 Rapid Prototype: Immersive View 81 Fig. 75 Rapid Prototype: Concept Images 82 Fig. 76 Rapid Prototype: Digital View 83 Fig. 77 Rapid Prototype: Digital Diagrams 84



Narratives of a Forest

04 | Executive Summary What roots us to a place? Our memories of a place are often defined by the stories that connect us with our landscapes and with each other. Through storytelling, our relationship with the landscape can transcend its original meaning, revealing new layers of a familiar place. Through an ethnographic design approach of listening, and engaging with local residents of Quadra Island, BC, this project articulates a design method highlighting the power of individual narrative and its role in activating the unrealized potential of a place. The design delves into the unseen dimensions and processes of a forest landscape, suggesting a lens through which a new form of social commons, rooted in the stories of the places from which we come from, can flourish. As small communities across BC transition to meet the needs of shifting demographics and economies, new forms of living and working in the rural context require a nuanced approach that inspires a renewed attention to detail, locale, material, and craft, providing a language for locals to participate in the metabolic tendencies of their community and imagine new relationships within the larger timeline of their future built environments.

Fig. 37 (Opposite): Narratives of a Forest: The Raven Midden


05 | Site Context 5.1 The Island Quadra Island, the community of study for this project, is located 300 km north of Victoria, BC, on the east coast of Vancouver Island. It is the largest island in the Discovery Island Archipelago, a network of sparsely populated islands scattered between the narrow inside passage between Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, off mainland British Columbia (Fig 38). The Island is well serviced from Vancouver Island by BC Ferries via a 15 minute car and passenger ferry ride from Campbell River, running hourly. Quadra has a population of 2,700 permanent residents, which can double during the summer months due to seasonal residents and tourismrelated activities.

25 km

Population: 2700 - 5400 (seasonal)

Narratives of a Forest

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Manhatten, NY

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Salt Spring Island, BC

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60 km 2 hr

Fig. 38 (Above) Quadra Island Context

Site Context


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The project site is a forested property, known locally village core (Comox Strathcona Regional District, as "Quathiaski Forest." The forest is 27 acres of 2011). Currently, the site is zoned as Residential One Rd. privately-owned land, located between the de-factoHeriot Bay (R-1). As a CDA, development densities for the site Quathiaski Cove Village centre, the Quathiaski Cove range from 10-25 units/ha (4-8 units/acre), depending ferry terminal (10 min. walk connecting Quadra to on density bonusing parameters such as accessibility, Vancouver Island), and the We Wai Kai Nation at affordability, and public greenspace allowances. Areas Cape Mudge (Fig. 40). Quadra remains the unceded on the site designated Village Center Residential territory of the Laich-Kwil-Tach people, the first (VCR) contain higher density allowances than the inhabitants of the island and surrounding region. Village Peripheral Residential (VPR) areas (Fig 39). Today, approximately 150 members of the We Wai Kai Nation/Cape Mudge Band, a group of the LaichKwil-Tach people live on the island, primarily at Cape Mudge Village.


5.2 The Neighbourhood

Quathiaski Cove Village Containment Boundary






Quathiaski Cove Village, locally dubbed The Cove or Q-Cove, contains the core commercial area on the southern half of Quadra Island, including a grocery store, post office, public library, credit union, tourism information center, pharmacy and medical clinic, art gallery, and a few other small commercial shops (Fig. 41). The central location of the Quathiaski Forest to the village center allows the site to function as a gateway and a meeting place for the entire community.

CDA-1 Boundary



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Q-Cove Village Commercial Core

The Quathiaski Cove Village is designated as one of the higher density neighbourhoods on the island, affording a more interactive and social community atmosphere. This is in contrast to the typical remote acreage properties of the island, that are largely hidden away on large swaths of private land. 40m

Narratives of a Forest



Pidcock Creek

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Changes and development on the site must adhere to the Quathiaski Cove Village Plan (Bylaw No. 120), enacted in 2011. The Village Plan documents the social, economic, and environmental goals of the neighbouhood, while also providing a guideline for future development (Comox Strathcona Regional District, 2011). Designated as a Comprehensive Development Area (CDA-1) within the Quathiaski Cove Village Land Use Plan, the project site is considered a village amenity, holding significant development potential to enhance the value of the

Quathiaski Forest


Village Centre Residential (VCR)

Village Peripheral Residential (VPR)

Fig. 39 (Above) Quathiaski Cove Village Plan Fig. 40 (Opposite) Quathiaski Cove Neighbourhood Context

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Quadra Elementary


Heriot Bay Rd.

Quathiaski Cove 12


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Quathiaski Cove Village, [pop. 450]

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Legend Land Water Forested Area Quathiaski Forest (Site)

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Ferry Terminal



Quathiaski Forest, Quadra Island

Credit Union

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Tourism Center

Public Library

Quathiaski Forest Existing Site Entrance


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aski Cove llage

Quadra Elementary

Pharmacy/ Medical Clinic

Art Gallery + Studios

Post Office

Grocery Story

Fig. 41 Quathiaski Cove Aerial Image credit: Study Build

Site Context


5.3 Project Background The owners of the site are the founders of a rural design studio called Study Build, whom I have collaborated with on a series of engagement and rural placemaking projects on Quadra Island. Together, we share a common vision and passion for the many incredible opportunities small communities provide for healthy, culturally diverse and sustainable living. As part of starting their company and embarking on a vision that fulfills some of the community needs and values outlined in the Quadra Island Official Community Plan (2007) and Quathiaski Cove Village Plan (2011), Study Build acquired a beautiful property, located in the Quathiaski Cove village, known locally as “Q-forest” - the aforementioned 27-acre forested site.

the methods of ethnographic inquiry with other students approaching their design work through a similar methodology. This was done through interviews and conversations with local community groups and individuals during the studio's site visit to Quadra Island. The studio visit and collaboration between Upenn and Study Build helped to stimulate continued dialogue in the community about the project site and its future uses.

In Spring, 2017, Study Build contracted a design firm called Snøhetta to facilitate a series of engagement workshop to begin ideating community goals for the site. This was an important first step in making an initial connection with stakeholder groups in the community, allowing Study Build to share their ideas and vision for the newly acquired forest land, and gain insights on how that land can provide opportunities for the larger community. The end report summarized a series of programmatic suggestions and site planning gestures envisioned during the various activities during the charrette (Fig. 42). In the Spring of 2019, Study Build co-hosted a design studio course from the University of Pennsylvania titled " Communal Ground: Advanced Construction in the Rural Landscape", taught by Rebecca Popowsky (Professor in Practice: OLIN/Upenn) and Mayur Mehta (Professor in Practice: Snøhetta/Upenn). While the studio focused on a number of themes that situate the practice of Landscape Architecture in the rural context, the studio visit to Quadra Island was largely guided by the ethnographic and individual narrative methodology explored in the first part of this thesis project. This provided an exciting opportunity for me to test and facilitate some of 57

Narratives of a Forest

Fig. 42 Quadra Island Charrette for Study Build: Summary Booklet Dykers, C., Molinar, E. & Mehta, M. of Snøhetta (2017).

Quathiaski Cove Village Plan: CDA-1 Designation Quadra Island Official Community Plan R-1 Zoning designation

Property History + Timeline


Study Build Acquires Property

2016 2017

2007 Quathiaski Forest Property

2019 2019

Project Timeline

Snøhetta Engagement Charrette

Upenn Rural Studio Visit + Cultural Engagement

Learning from Nowhere: Narratives of a Forest Proposal

Private Property Future Neighbourhood Amenity Public Commons

Fig. 43 (Above) Quathiaski Forest Property Project Timeline

Site Context



Narratives of a Forest

Fig. 44 Quathiaski Forest Image by the Author

06| What's in a Forest? Design Introduction

This project is about building relationships - with

people, and with a forest. The approach places value on the importance of local knowledge and local partnerships in the design process. Engaging with people in the community of study, Quadra Island, and building relationships through their experiences on the site is an act of design in itself. The design proposal is an integration of cultural, ecological, and social relationships on the site. These are initiated through a series of micro-lenses of the forest, and negotiated through a digital toolkit. The entanglement of these two realms of interaction - analogue and digital - enables a deepened relationship with the forest, thickening the human-cultural layer of experience as an essential part of engaging with the dynamic forest ecosystem. Through this approach, the community can begin to develop and share essential knowledge about their environment and their relationship to the ecosystems in which they belong, as part of, rather than in place of, future site developments. The design proposal offers an approach that breaks down the "walls" of the vacant forest property from a private project, to a public commons. The design offers a first step towards building the necessary social capital and public support for the larger project vision. The end product is a mere ripple in the larger current of the site's development trajectory, yet offers a framework that places the notion of the public commons as the necessary social infrastructure from which development and planning decisions can emerge. This approach will strengthen the goals of the Quathiaski Cove Village (the neighbourhood), Quathiaski Forest (the project site), and the larger community, while providing the beginnings of a public infrastructure from which to iterate and add.

Learning from No[w]here situates itself within the larger timeline of the future goals for the Quathiaski Forest property. The proposal is a small step forward in response to the reality that projects involving comprehensive master-planning require large investments and can take years to come to fruition. Balancing immediate and future community needs and expectations in response to some of the initial conversations that the participatory design processes enables can often be lost in this time frame. As such, the project seeks to position itself as an intermediary that side steps the leap towards the typical architectural/infrastructural project, and instead focuses on developing the ethnoecological relationships between the site and its users. The proposal does not suggest that architecture and the necessary infrastructure that goes along with it is not relevant in the larger timeline of the project. Rather, the approach posits that the order from which a community project - one that promises amenity and value to the future community vision and whose success is largely hinged on the support of the community - should be born from a deep rooted connection of people to the land. In this way, the social commons becomes the groundwork, the analysis, the creative "idea work" from which development unfolds. It is the first and necessary phase of understanding a place, building stories, and developing cultural connections with a landscape. It is a reorganization of the contemporary attitude towards land ownership and development, which largely diminishes the importance of place, culture, and story as something necessarily originating from the landscape, but rather arriving from the architecture. In contrast, the design solutions in this project seek not to problem solve, but rather offer a deeper, dynamic and ongoing inquiry into the novel and ever-changing functions of a forest. Design Strategy


The design work was largely informed by the informal conversations I had with locals who, after being accustomed to seeing me working in local cafes and the public library, would approach and ask what I was drawing - they would ask to see the community through my lens, and I, in turn, would ask to see it through theirs. This informality largely helped to break down barriers and expectations in our exchange of ideas, providing a safe and playful reciprocation of insights that lacked the rehearsal typical of public forums in design work. Through this approach, stories and thoughts about a person's perceptions and experience in the lager community emerged as part of one's daily musings, liberated from the scrutiny of other opinions. Narrative Approach: Stories The design consists of three interventions in the forest. Each area is inspired from a story gathered through conversations with local residents and users of the forest. The stories have to do with play (the planets), cohabitation (the raven midden), and nostalgia (the cottonwood tree). These three stories of the forest are situated in their context, intimately connected within the many dimensions of their surrounding landscape. While these sites are inspired by the experience and observations gathered from individuals during informal conversation, the resulting design gestures lend themselves to interpretation. They seek to reveal the hidden qualities of the forest, providing a vast array of experiences and atmospheres that are unique for each individual who chooses to engages with them.


Narratives of a Forest


Conversations: People The first part of this work borrows from ethnographic research methods to illustrate the power of local knowledge, individual narrative and its role in the design process. Methods of engaging with the community of study, Quadra Island, took various forms, drawing on previous relationships built while working and living in the community.


6.1 Guiding Principles

Fig. 45 (Above) People + Stories: Design Guidelines Fig. 46 (Opposite, top) Narrative Connections Map Interconnectivity of guiding themes for engaging with community and individual stories Fig. 47 (Opposite, bottom) People, Materials, Craft: Narratives of a place Collection of materials and gestures from narrative themes that guided community conversations

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Design Strategy

Beyond the analogue experience, users are encouraged to participate in a digital toolkit which enables a collection of site data - ecological and cultural - to build up essential knowledge and relationships with the environment, and to inform future phases of the project. The end result is a an entanglement between a data driven, macro- system and the human-centered, values-based micro-lens of the site. This provides a method in which to engage the site; a layering of humancentered values, experiences, individual perceptions, and the larger socio-ecological sphere in which the site exists. Such a position is essential for building social infrastructure on the site, and activating a public commons that will have a lasting impact on the larger vision and goals for the site in future years.


Nodes of I [Human-Cente


Creative Authority + Co-Authorship: Macro The three designs that follow are named after design thinking strategies: Playful Imagination, Slow Ponder, and Rapid Prototype. They are aimed at empowering the site user with a creative authority that is typically reserved for those that call themselves designers. This is in keeping with the thesis that has been developed throughout this research, that designers working in small communities will find greater success and meaning in their projects if they extend their role to that of the facilitator that empowers creative authority in local community members. Each area seeks to illuminate individual creative thinking, elevating the value of the public user from the observing guest, walking through a piece of private property, to the role of the participant and knowledge holder.


Lens of the Forest: Micro Each site is comprised of experiential prompts that remove people from their normal way of thinking, providing a lens through which people can climb out of the epidermis of their adult self and engage in various forms of creative expression. This is akin to a “snowglobe" way of seeing and thinking that liberates creativity and elevates the forest occupant as a miniature in the larger dynamism that is the forest. This "thickening" of the human experience in the forest beyond the singular dimension of a prescribed pathway provides a range of experiences and prompts towards a way thinking that enhances stewardship and social capital to the land. Through this lens, local users gain a greater understanding of the dynamic processes of the forest, and what it means to cohabit and co-create within this landscape.

Networks of N [User-Inscribe

Initiation ered, Analogue]


Negotiation ed, Digital]

Fig. 48 (Left) Micro + Macro: Design Guidelines Fig. 49 (Above, top) Nodes of Initiation : Analogue Experience Fig. 50 (Above, bottom) Network of Negotiation: Digital toolkit Fig. 51 (Right) Roots of a Place: Conceptual Sketch

Design Strategy


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Call to Adventure Citizen Science Species Identification

Ecological/Educational Site Analysis Layers



SLOW Socio-Ecological Grounding Individual Experience Co-Habitation

Cultural/Social Site Analysis Layers



PROTOTYPE Acquiring real-time data Environmental monitoring User-Inscribed, co-authorship


Narratives of a Forest

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Dynamic/Evolving Site Analysis Layers

Fig. 52 (Above) Digital Toolkit Cues Fig. 53 (Right) Plan

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Tourism Center Quadra FarmersMarket

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CottonWood Tree


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100 m

Creek Seasonal Saturation Property 0.5 m contours Existing Trails

Design Strategy


6.2 Playful Imagination Inspired by our inner childhood wonder, Playful Imagination is about engaging in a kinesthetic experience with the forest. Situated in the mixed alder - hemlock forest character zone in the North West edge of the site, a tensile net structure connects a mounded landscape. These natural forms, developed out of the remnants of logging activities over 60 years ago, characterize the vegetative growth and guide the seasonal flows of water throughout this area of the site. The intervention is inspired by the story of "The Planets", in which local children describe their glee in crawling up the series of mounded old - growth stumps. Atop these mounds exists an imaginary universe of orbiting "forest planets." Bounding from "planet to planet" users are encouraged to experience the forest floor from above, crawl, roll spread, nestle, gather, and explore from behind this new lens of the forest landscape. The tensile structure elevates users above the forest floor, providing a dimension from which to engage with the ephemeral qualities of the forest watershed below. The site offers both a communal gathering space and a space for exploration and discovery for the individual.

Local Story: The Planets "We like to pretend the stumps in the forest are planets. We each have our own planet, and we orbit around each other in the Quadra forest solar system." - Quadra children describing their forest adventures

Finally, the elevated landscape offers opportunities to enhance the outdoor classroom learning experience for the local Quadra Elementary School. Currently, this group uses the Quathiaski Forest for their watershed curriculum, and other experiential learning field trips.


Narratives of a Forest

Fig. 54 (Above, top) Local Story: The Planets Fig. 55 (Above + left) Playful Imagination Concept Sketches Fig. 56 (Opposite, top) Playful Imagination: Plan Fig. 57 (Opposite, bottom) Section Detail



Scale: 1:1000 0



50 Meters


Netting to be secured taut from above tree ring, fastened by custom sheath at ground plane connection

1.5 m Beveled Edge Helical Ground Screw

Section Detail: 1:50

Playful Imagination



Narratives of a Forest



Fig. 58 Playful Imagination: Immersive View

Fig. 59 Watershed Concept Images

Playful Imagination


PACIFIC WATER PARSLEY [Oenanthe sarmentosa] Indicator of Nitrogen rich soils and fluctuating water tables

PLAYFUL IMAGINATION Usually associated with skunk cabbage [Lysichitum americanum], see if you can find one.


Narratives of a Forest

Citizen Scientist: Call to Adventure The digital toolkit of the playful adventurer is a citizen science project. Currently, Quadra Elementary classes use the forest for various educational activities. The educators are supportive of the use of ipad and iphone technologies as learning tools for their outdoor curriculum, and have previously embarked on mapping and species catalogue projects on the site. The Playful Imagination digital application provides an interface to add, archive and access this work, elevating it beyond an educational tool for elementary students. Instead, students, among other users of the site, can geolocate, access and monitor species across the site, providing insights into the dynamic shifts of species across the site, cues for adaptation in changing conditions, etc... Future projects on the site will rely on this citizen-inscribed data to inform planning and design decisions that integrate with the ecological diversity across the site.



Acoustic Recognition

Seasonal Prompts

Machine learning algorithm picks up sounds in the forest and send notifications about acoustic surroundings

Seasonal trends prompted through data system, such as when to expect neotropical migratory bird species in the area Today is September 21, 2021 Neotropical migratory species such as the Western Tanager should be in the area. See if you can find one!

Species Identification

Pacific Water Parsley [Oenanthe sarmentosa] Indicator of Nitrogen rich soils and fluctuating water tables Calendar Prompts A


Geolocated Species



Fig. 60 (Above) Playful Imagination: Digital View Fig. 61 (Right) Playful Imagination: Digital Diagrams

Geo-located images of plants entered into database, paired with machine learning algorithm to enhance citizen science engagement and experiential learning opportunities







Playful Imagination


6.3 Slow Ponder As you wander through the forest, a glimmer of white catches your eye. Cradled in a forest nook, just off the path, you notice a peculiar arrangement of seating pods, arranged on a bed of crushed sea shells. This sparks your curiosity and encourages you to venture off the trail to investigate. Slow Ponder is a series of small forest nooks, situated in the North East edge of the forest, among the seasonal creek and mixed forest character of the site. Inspired by the story of the raven tree midden, Slow Ponder is a space of introspection, co-habitation, a place where stories of the places where we come from are written, and told. Upon initial investigation, you realize that the "pods" in the forest nook you have discovered are in fact meant to be carried forth throughout the forest, dispersed and set free, for others to discover. Small patches of white shells are spread among areas just off the trail, nudging you to discover for yourself, what makes a good space to ponder. You are liberated by the discovery that you have been invited to tread off the path, pod in hand - to find your own personal space of refuge, to share with others, or to keep to yourself.

Local Story: The Raven Midden "The raven tree is where the ravens collect themselves and all their sea shell treasures. It's a landmark in this forest, and symbol for the importance of our necessary co-habitation with the wildlife and ecology of the island." - Quadra Resident

When you return to the space again, weeks later, perhaps it is as you remember, or perhaps, the stories of another have been layered into your own, shared through oral storytelling or a letter to the forest in the Slow Ponder feature of your digital toolkit. The stories you read of past users direct your attention to the textures of the moss beneath your feet, and the murmuring sound of the spring, shimmering in sunlight dappled by new foliage among the alder stand above. Suddenly, the lens of your experience is magnified, adding to the tapestry of the forest ecosystem and its bio-cultural processes.


Narratives of a Forest

Fig. 62 (Above, top) Local Story: The Raven Midden Fig. 63 (Above, bottom) Local Story: Raven Tree Sketch



Fig. 64 (Above, top) Slow Ponder: Plan Fig. 65 (Above, bottom) Slow Ponder: Seed Pod Diagrams

Scale: 1:1000 0



50 Meters

Slow Ponder



Narratives of a Forest


Fig. 66 (Above) Slow Ponder: Immersive View Fig. 67 (Right) Slow Ponder: Concept Images

Slow Ponder


Dear Miss. Alnus rubra, I wish I could make friends like you. How did you build such a strong bond with all your bacteria? You guys do everything together! One day I hope for a friend like that.







Ad to d yo th ur eF S or tor Fi es y nd t ot he rs to rie s

Dear Dr. Lysichiton americanus, I know some people say you’re stinky, but I think you’re marvelous. I bet they don’t know that you can warm yourself up when it gets cold! But that’s why I like you, you’re so modest.

Dear Homo sapiens,

Thank you for your complements, I don’t get many these days. Sometimes I wish people would know that my smell is very attractive to some, especially flies. As, I like to say, beauty is in the nose of the beholder!


Narratives of a Forest

Slow Ponderer: Letters to our Forest Dwellers Stories of the places where we come from. What's in a story? How important are stories to the understanding of our place. Here, the forest ponderer is encouraged to share their insights of the places they've discovered and come to love. If we don't know what the importance of these places are for people, how can the future inhabitants of this land know to protect them? How can they know its history? How can they grow and learn from the knowledge of past users? Here, the stories of the places that we spend time become an important layer in the dynamic processes of the site - a co-mingling of the ecological shifts, seasonal changes, and human interactions of the forest landscape. The collection of stories, oral and written, serve as a cultural layer of ongoing site analysis to inform future public and private infrastructure projects on the site. Dear Mr. Polystichum munitum, How is it going down there? Sometimes when I walk through the Q-forest I wonder if you mind as I brush past, I don’t mean to offend. Did I ever mention that out of all the plants, you’re the one that I imagine when I think about dinosaurs? I sometimes wonder what you think about when you see us.


Dear Homo sapiens, I must say I was surprised to get your letter. Most people usually confuse me and Ms. Pteridium aquilinum. I suppose that is to be expected for a species that can’t tell the difference between Bees and Wasps! As to your query, I always wonder, if you’re not green, how exactly does eating work? Do you photosynthesize?

Forest Audio Musings

Record your Story

Letters to the Forest

Listen to oral stories that others have shared

Add your own memory or experience to the forest “podcast”

Share your stories and memories with the forest

Dear Ms Kindbergia oregana, You must love living in the Q-forest. I certainly enjoy walking through it every day. I hope you don’t mind my asking, but how did you end up here, and how is it that all your relatives and you live in such proximity without too much fighting? You share the forest with all of them so well, even when they start growing right on top you! Dear Homo sapien, Thank you for your mail, and indeed I do love living here. The moisture levels are great, and the rain is consistent! I suppose it’s a question of perspective, whereas you see sharing as a burden, I was always taught to cherish our close connection. I, and indeed those around me are happier and even healthier because of it.


Fig. 68 (Above, Left) Slow Ponder: Digital View Fig. 69 (Above, Right) Slow Ponder: Digital Diagram

Slow Ponder


6.4 Rapid Prototype Treading lightly along the main pathway towards Pidcock Creek, you round a corner and descend slightly into a seasonally saturated, wet meadow, alder and black cottonwood stand. Suddenly, a gap in the trail appears, replaced by a peculiar inset circle holding a film of water - evidence of the fluctuating vertical water table in this area. This sudden grasp of your attention, directed at your feet as you toe along boulders replacing the pathway reveals the reflection of an intricate forest canopy above. Rapid Prototype offers a lens across the vertical horizon of the "forest wide web." A canopy ring overhead frames the delicate limbs of alder and cottonwood, while a "reflecting ring" below highlights the dynamic pulsing of water within the ground plane. Looking up, you are struck by the complexity of spaces between which you occupy: a whimsical alder canopy, wavering in the breeze, their tufted foliage casting hopeful glimmers of sunlight that dance on the film of water below your feet. You're enveloped between two steel rings that frame your views out and across the low-land meadow, revealing the larger web of life teeming among the various dimensions of the forest landscape. The spring air is fresh and crisp, and the sweet smell of a nearby cottonwood tree tickles your nose.




Local Story: The Cottonwood Tree "The cottonwood tree is a nostalgic place for me. I get overwhelmed with childhood memories the smell of the sap in the spring, the fresh buds and other flowering bushes around it. There is an atmosphere about it, a flame of the place that draws you in. That is a memory of a place that will stay with me forever" - Quadra Resident

Inspired by the story of the Cottonwood Tree - a nearby cherished tree specimen that characterizes this area of the forest - Rapid Prototype reveals to users the vast array of connectivity, encouraging users to engage in creative explorations that allow for small discoveries to assemble into bigger ideas and processes. Light touch design moves reveal and frame the sectional qualities of the forest, highlighting the interconnectivity between forest floor and forest canopy, and the seasonal dynamics that influence our relationships and perceptions to the landscape.


Narratives of a Forest

Fig. 70 (Above, Top) Local Story: The Cottonwood Tree Fig. 71 (Above, Bottom) Rapid Prototype: Concept Sketches

Fig. 72 (Right, Top) Rapid Prototype: Plan Fig. 73 (Right, Bottom) Rapid Prototype: Section


Scale: 1:400 0



25 meters

Section Scale: 1:500

Rapid Prototype



Narratives of a Forest



Fig. 74 (Left) Rapid Prototype: Immersive View Fig. 75 (Above) Canopy Concept Images

Rapid Prototype







6 °C 78%

Narratives of a Forest

User Inscribed Environmental Data As more people begin to negotiate the digital toolkit of the Quathiaski Cove Forest, data rich and data poor areas of the site are revealed through an interactive geospatial map. Use of the Rapid Prototype interface allows for acquiring real-time, spatial information about the site's environment, such as temperature and humidity, ambient light, wind direction, rainfall volumes, and various acoustic inputs, at the hands of the site navigator. This data assembles itself in the form of a heat map, promoting users to visit data poor areas and add their ecological and cultural layers, through the interface of the Slow Ponder and Playful Imagination. The constant flux of inputs and user responses allows for the mobilization of a network defined by the users of the site and their interactions with the dynamic environmental conditions, highlighting the importance of site data collection as a dynamic process to inform development, rather than a singular event.


Data Analysis + Site Conditions:

Seasonal Data Analytics:

AI + Machine Learning Apps combine in one interface to allow for passive acquisition of site data Acoustics Rain Gauge

Temperature + Humidity

Ambient Light Sensor

Users can compare site observations across times of day, seasons, and years, to observe trends and dynamic changes in the forest Seasonal Trends A








Rock Wood Loamy Soil Foliage



Geospatial Prompts:

Geospatial data notifications prompt where site data is needed, encouraging users to visit those areas GPS Tracks

Data Drought Map

[Surface Substrate]

Fig. 76 (Left) Rapid Prototype: Digital View Fig. 77 (Above) Rapid Prototype: Digital Diagrams

Rapid Prototype


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Narratives of a Forest

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Profile for Brittany Shalagan

Learning from No[w]here: Narratives of a Forest  

Landscape Architecture Graduate Project Design Proposal: Part II

Learning from No[w]here: Narratives of a Forest  

Landscape Architecture Graduate Project Design Proposal: Part II