on site $9
display until october
Bombay Calgary Vancouver Rome SĂŁo Paulo Paris
New Orleans Venice Inuvik Toronto Naramata Djienne
culture urbanism art architecture
Rafael Gomez Moriana
n an o i t c e: a ctur ta, 1967 e t i is rch k, A tudio V o o rC n: S Pete Londo . plan
all sorts of people
Water and more water
Dhobi Ghats and laundromats
Drinking water, thinking cities
Peter Osborne + Joylyn Teskey
Branded: Calgary Water Building
Condocity: the language of location
North Atlantic Rim Research Collaborative
Sub-Saharan Africa: the weight of wealth
Harris Water Treatment Plant 1932-41
Fernando de Mello Franco
Aqua Branca, SĂŁo Paulo
Foundations and floods
Jason Sowell + Nichole Weidmann
New Orleans after Katrina
Island of Discarded Plastic (Leonia), Venice
Inuvik Family Centre
Roof garden water systems
Reclaiming the Don River
Sanya New Town, China
Land/Scope at CCIW, Hamilton
Things you can do with swimming pools
Miriam Jordan + Julian Haladyn
Garden of Light, Jamelie Hassan
West coast driftwood
what are you reading?
the 200-word dash
Prix de Rome in Architecture
what are you teaching?
the 100-word dash
photography in articles
Harriet Burdett-Moulton, Joey Giaimo, Monte Sobsischen, Greg Piccinni, Joe Kubic Stephanie White, Rafael Gomez Moriana, Karen Trask, Filiz Klassen, Jonah Humphrey, Brian Dyson, Lisa Hirmer, Florian Maurer, Miriam Jordan, Julian Haladyn, D Selden, Tanner Merkely, Paul Litherland, Arthur Allen, Daniel Thorp, Melissa Brown generally by the authors, plus Stephanie White, Brian Liston, Niamh Keene, Maire Costello, Fiona Carroll, Jacinta Curley, Roger Mullin, Nelson Koh, Lori Keisling, H+S+N, Winterstudio.NL, Hugo Arriojas, bREAL, Claire Frost, Ashok Charles, Ron Myanishi, Gwen MacGregor
As if the half-mile trek to class isnâ€™t bad enough. Ithaca New York Melissa Brown
the architecture of waves
masterâ€™s thesis extract | university of waterloo school of architecture by zubin singh
skateboarding surfing surfboards mythology Huntington Beach Pier
Through the act of surfing, as no other human activity, man enters the domain of the breaking wave, is contained by and participates in its broadcast, measures and is in turn measured, meets its rhythm and establishes his own, negotiates continuity and rupture at the scale of the body. What is the nature of this inhabitation? A bold proposition: surfing is an architectural act. Through it the surfbreak is drawn within the sphere of culture and the wave becomes an architectural domain.
Geographically the surfbreak represents an actual threshold between environs, but historically it has also been a symbolic Porta between two overlapping and irreconcilable realms, two inimical elements: the land and the sea, earth and water. On the one hand, the stable and the familiar: the ground upon which humankind has built its civilizations and institutions, established its relation to space and time, defined culture. On the other, the capricious and unknowable: the quintessential other, Nature at her most fecund and ruinous, that which is beyond, indeterminate. It is no accident that Hesiodâ€™s Aphrodite was conceived in the spume, or that Botticelliâ€™s Venus is borne ashore on the crest of a breaking wave: the surfbreak has always been a fertile territory in the human imagination, a metaphor of paradox, of life.
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As a point of departure: the pier; beginning with a comparison between surfing and skateboarding– an analogous relation between the surfer’s appropriation of the pier and the skateboarder’s appropriation of the urban environment. In Skateboarding, Space and the City (Berg, 2001) Iain Borden presents skateboarding as a ‘performative critique’ of the values associated with life in the modern capitalist city, specifically as they are manifest in architecture, as they order our relations with space and time. Skateboarding subverts the intended function of architecture (namely utility) by reducing architecture to a terrain– a composition of objects and planes to grind, jump or ride. ‘Skateboarders analyse architecture not for historical, symbolic or authorial content but for how surfaces present themselves as skateable’ (p 218); ‘the city for skateboarders is not buildings but a set of ledges, window sills, walls, roofs, railings,... and so on’ (p 219). While skateboarding often rejects the commodification of space (frequently the skateboarder transgresses the boundary between public and private) it is also a rejection of time as a commodity: ‘Skateboarders are... more concerned with temporal distance as proximity (temporal closeness of things, temporal locality), and its repetition, than with time as a valuable resource or measure of efficiency’ (p 226). The surfer appropriates the pier in a similar fashion.
Ever since surfing emerged on the California Coast its adherents have congregated around the pier (the Huntington Beach Pier is perhaps the most famous example) because of the structure’s inadvertent tendency to create sandbars, whose presence enhances the shape and power of the breaking waves. The intended function of the pier, on the other hand, is primarily commercial. It exists as a simple structure built for fishermen (who pay to use them), or as a more elaborate commercial enterprise designed to attract tourists (e.g. Santa Monica Pier). As skateboarding does with the urban fabric, surfing subverts the intentions of the architectural object; the surfer rejects its commercial function, which she appropriates for her own purposes – free of charge. Surfing transforms this largely utilitarian artifact into an armature of the surfbreak, the locus of an alternative social realm: the privileged refuge of the individual surfer, engaged in the solitary session; or a remote commons, where local surfers gather outside the spatial and social bounds of conventional society. In the end however, it is not the pier but the 3 2
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1-4. The pier at Huntington Beach, California
wave itself to which the surfer is drawn; and it is ultimately the wave that determines not only the space of the surfbreak, but more profoundly the surfer’s relationship with time. In the water the surfer is constantly in motion, negotiating the ever-shifting regions of ‘inside’ and ‘outside,’ the areas shoreward and seaward of a breaking wave that each successive wave redefines. In surfing timing is everything: not only while riding, but in simply finding the evanescent wave, whose rhythms do not obey the constructed metres of modern society. Surfing is not something to be scheduled; rather, it must be scheduled around. Consequently, in order to surf on a regular basis, all surfers must inevitably submit to the wave– the spatial embodiment cyclical time. Waves are created by vast pelagic storms; they follow the paths of the seasons, respond to the pull of the sun and moon, to the alternations of night and day– to the rhythms that once defined our understanding of time’s passage. The practice reflects this reality: surfers tend to return to familiar breaks season after season, year after year; the surf-session is defined by elliptical orbits– surfers paddle outside, wait for and catch a wave, only to return outside and repeat the sequence again; there is no score, no tangible goal, no clear beginning or end. This stands in stark contrast to the linear conception of time upon which the idea of progress is founded, the imperative which drives the modern world. As a result, surfers are often caught between the demands of irreconcilable worlds as well as inimical elements. Even the surfboard spans two seemingly antithetical domains: the mass production of the foam ‘blank’ (the primary component of the modern surfboard) and the hand-craftsmanship of the board shaper; the impersonal and placeless nature of the industrial process, coupled with the fact that shapers often craft surfboards in collaboration with surfers in response to particular conditions and locations– the gently tapered lines of Malibu or the fast-breaking tubes of Pipeline. In the threshold between land and sea, between progress and nature’s incurable cycles, between the modern and the vernacular, dwells the surfer. In the shadow of the pier a wave swells, steepens, suddenly mortal; and on a thin blade of glass and foam a surfer strokes into the wave, rises to his feet and descends – at the moment of its collapse: a dialogue, an architectural dialogue, between permanence and change. D
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culture | dhobi ghats and laundromats by aniket shahane
laundry Bombay New York water use labour urban visibility
a laundry list for urban vibrancy
In the laundromats of Bombay and New York, water and power go hand in hand. Not only do they comprise the infrastructure required for the laundromats’ operation (water for washing and electricity for drying), but their availability as resources determines both how and how much space is claimed by this banal activity. The architecture of the Bombay Dhobi Ghats — a generations-old Indian public laundry — and the New York City Laundromat unveils the impact of infrastructure on people, activity, and architecture.
India’s infrastructure can be characterised as fragile at best. Although improving, the supply of both water and electricity are unreliable. Power outages are not uncommon and water is often unsanitary, if running at all. Low levels of water and electricity instill in Indians a frugal mindset towards the consumption of these resources. Water needs to be carefully allocated. Electrical loads must be at a minimum. But what India lacks in resources, it more than makes up for with resourcefulness. In Bombay, a city of 18 million individuals, the human hand is the best means to monitor the quantity of water that flows from a tap. Reliance on manpower is critical and is most evident in the architecture of the Dhobi Ghat.
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Like many other Laundromats, Bombay’s Dhobi Ghat provides complete laundry services for its clientele including clothing pickup/drop-off, washing, drying, and ironing. However, in contrast to Laundromats that have a stronger infrastructure at their disposal, the Ghat survives on a spartan attitude towards water and energy consumption. It works like this. Upon request, a courier from the Ghat is dispatched to a client’s home to pick up dirty laundry. The clothes are wrapped in a brightly colored sack and swiftly delivered to the Ghat by the courier, usually on a bicycle or other man-powered vehicle (water and electricity are not the only resources that are hard to come by in Bombay). Upon arrival at the Ghat, the clothes are
sorted, marked, and handed over to the laundrymen. Unlike washing machines, which provide little flexibility in water usage, washing men can regulate the stream of water from a tap so as to use only the amount necessary for a given load of laundry minimizing wasteful water consumption. After the appropriate amount of water is released, soap is added and the washing man begins his job. Knee deep in sudsy water, he dunks a few articles of clothing at a time, pulls them out, smacks the garments on a flogging stone in order to beat out the dirt, and then wrings the clothes of excess water with his bare hands. This process is repeated until the washing man determines the load to be clean, at which point he carries the garments in his arms to one of many clotheslines strung from one side of the Ghat to another to begin the drying process. The clothes are hung to air-dry individually one article at a time; the occasional Bombay sea breeze is far more dependable than the Bombay electrical infrastructure. Finally, the dried, wrinkled clothes are hand-pressed using a heavy iron heated in a wood-burning oven. They are then folded, packed in another colorful sack, and returned by courier to their rightful owner. The Dhobi Ghat is a place of messy, physical work that engages the entire human body and demands much from its architecture. Above all, the Dhobi Ghat needs to house men performing an arduous job. Unlike the washing machine, a washing man requires more space and maintenance. He needs to be able to bend down, stand up, scrub and flail wet clothes. It’s necessary for him to be able to eat, drink, and communicate with other washing men. He is far less predictable and productive than a machine. He can slip and fall, take ill, bear a bad mood, or demand better pay. Moreover, the washing man lacks the capacity to wash as many loads as one washing machine. Therefore, in order for the Dhobi Ghat to run as a legitimate business, it needs to house many washing men. With such a complicated program, it is no wonder the Ghats are designed the way they are: they are not enclosed at all. An open Laundromat — one with no walls — gives the washing men enough room to manoeuvre as required while allowing plenty of natural air circulation to mitigate the pervasive dampness. In this open format, rows of concrete pens on the ground are sized to allow one laundryman to wash. Bundles of pipes
feed the fragile Bombay water into each one of these pens through a spicket. Overhead, a web of clotheslines makes an ad-hoc trellis. In Bombay, where the act of washing and drying clothes can’t be trusted to resource-guzzling machines, a man inside a concrete pen and a clothesline suspended in open air are the best substitutes. The architecture of the New York Laundromat, in contrast, is far more subdued. The city’s robust infrastructure gives New Yorkers the licence to use as much water and energy as desired, even at a time when the word ‘sustainability’ is all the rage. This allows the demeanour of the New York City laundryman to be drastically different than his counterpart in Bombay. Like the Dhobi Ghat, the typical New York Laundromat also provides full laundry services for its clients. Once the clothes have been dropped off at the Laundromat, the laundryman empties the bag of clothes into a washing machine, usually separating whites from colors. A plastic dial is twisted to select water temperature, while seven quarters are thrust into a metal tray in order to start the machine. After exactly twenty minutes, it stops, at which point the load is assumed to be clean. The clothes are then unloaded by the laundryman, transported in a cart a short distance to the drying machine, and tossed into a dryer. A fabric softener sheet is added, another dial is turned to select the desired level of heat (i.e. electricity) for the job, more coins are inserted to determine drying time (one quarter buys six minutes of hot air), and finally a button is pressed to begin the machine drying process. The only part of the New York City laundryman’s job that doesn’t involve the use of a machine is the folding of clothes, which has to be done by hand. If clothes are folded soon enough after drying, there is usually no ironing required. Because the laundry process in New York is not nearly as labour intensive as in Bombay, it enables many clients to come in and do their own laundry — an option not available at the Dhobi Ghat. Locals will arrive at all hours, unload a bag of clothes into a washer, return thirty minutes later to transfer the clothes to a dryer, then come back once again to take the clothes home. Compared to the Ghat, the New York Laundromat is an easy, tidy operation.
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The architecture of the NYC Laundromat is a direct reflection of its resource abundant, labour deficient process. It requires space to accommodate a certain number of machines with identical dimensions and predictable behaviors. A rehabbed ground floor of a row house will do just fine. The Laundromat on Smith Street in Brooklyn is a typical example. Besides the overflow of glaring fluorescent lighting from the large storefront window, there is very little that gives away the activities that occur inside. The interior contains two rows of machines with a centre aisle. Washing machines are towards the streetfront, while dryers occupy the back of the space. The floors, walls and ceiling are a ragtag composition of vinyl and acoustic tiles, in order to provide an economical and acoustically sound enclosure. The architecture of the New York Laundromat is, for the most part, fairly discreet. In both the Dhobi Ghat and the Smith Street Laundromat, space is generated not only by the physical form, dimensions, and organisations of men and machines; it is also a direct result of varying degrees of access to water and energy. Because the Dhobi Ghat has to be a physically open space in order to function, it is possible for the average passer-by to peer down on the space and witness the chaotic collection of people and clothes, wet and dry. The sound of laundrymen bellowing each other and the smell of dirty cloth and caustic soda
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contribute to the public assault of one’s senses. The Ghat’s location next to the train line allows the activity of clothes-washing to be a landmark passed on the commute to and from work. In more ways than one, the Dhobi Ghat asserts itself onto its city. In fact, this kind of emphatic claim of urban space is typical of Bombay locals. When given scarce resources, countless Bombay residents take matters into their own hands. They claim the space of their city as their own, not just for washing and drying, but also for cooking, eating, sleeping, bathing, entertaining, defecating, urinating, and cremating. Bombay is a city of perpetual urban aggression — each individual carrying out in public what they cannot do in private. In New York, on the other hand, the introverted nature of the Smith Street Laundromat betrays its city’s tendency toward privatisation. The abundance of resources in New York affords a city that is luxurious enough to individualise almost everything, including access to a washer and dryer. Everyday mundane chores such as washing and drying clothes don’t require the effort they do in Bombay and are mostly kept out of the public realm. Why air dry outside when there is plenty of electricity to machine dry inside? In fact, it is so uncommon to see clothes hung out to dry in New York that on the rare occasion that it actually happens, it often induces outcries from neighbours. Hanging laundry in New York today is seen as a sign of a neighbour-
hood in decline. It devalues adjacent property. So even if New Yorkers are tempted to air dry (to save on electric bills, for example), they will most likely opt to be good neighbours and use a drying machine instead. Alas, the price of living in a city with seemingly endless reserves of water and electricity is the burden of propriety: please use a clothes dryer rather than a clothesline to dry your clothes so my property does not depreciate; please grill in your own backyard rather than on the sidewalk so I don’t smell your cooking; please play your music in your living room rather than on the street so my quiet evening at home isn’t disturbed. The affluence of New York infrastructure has instilled in New Yorkers something that currently does not and cannot exist in Bombay: a common sense of civic etiquette. It is a reminder that commodities as basic as water and electricity have the power to affect people, behaviour, and ultimately, space. Considering the impact of architectural spaces such as laundromats on cities like Bombay and New York begins to shed light on the possibility that seemingly naïve everyday acts such as cleaning clothes, washing dishes, or taking baths do much more than tap our collective infrastructure. They promote or sometimes impede urban vibrancy. A vibrant city is an arena for both celebration and conflict, a place that readily counteracts order and predictability with unanticipated spontaneity. Now is a time when New York, despite — or perhaps because
of — all its resources, is in danger of becoming so bound by civic etiquette that there is less room left for New Yorkers to improvise on their streets. Conversely, if Bombay’s infrastructure doesn’t catch up to India’s charging global economy, it stands to marginalise millions of Bombayites, which could exacerbate — among other things — the city’s serious problem of shanty towns (a most extreme kind of urban improvisation). Sustainability and globalisation gurus have drilled into us the notion that we are one global village, inter-connected and networked; consuming resources in New York equates to depleting them elsewhere. But what if New Yorkers relied less on water and energy not only to slow down global warming, but also as an excuse to bring to New York some of Bombay’s penchant for spontaneous street intensity? What if the clothesline poles that stand in the backyards of so many Brooklyn brownstones were activated with clean laundry once again, not just to help save the planet, but also to help keep Brooklynites from co-opting their borough’s air space? If the proponents of the Green movement are proven correct, then reducing the load on New York’s infrastructure might eventually have positive repercussions in other parts of the world. What is certain, however, is that it will almost immediately shift more activity from New York’s private to its public realm and help encourage a more free-spirited vigour on its streets. D
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Water is the stuff of life.1 In North America, drinking water each day is considered a healthful practice. However, the recent death of a Californian is a disturbing case of drowning from the inside out. On the 12th of January, 2007, Jennifer Lea Strange participated in a radio show competition and drank so much water so suddenly that she died of water intoxication.2
death, life and drinking water
drinking water thinking cities
water management life cycles climate change narrative paths water commodification
processes | urban water by cecilia chen
Cities and Water
pesticides used in farming along the Ottawa River
effluent that it absorbs. This water continues on,
Almost all cities are founded near water: for
soon flow along the shores of Montreal and must
carrying material memories of the city to places
drinking, washing, transport, agriculture, industry
be filtered out through water treatment facilities.
and pleasure. Oceans border Vancouver and Hali-
The transgressive behaviour of water links cities to
Water moves between scales to blur the personal
fax. Winnipeg and Ottawa are located on rivers.
a much larger context.
and the epic. Drinking from a tap brings my body
Toronto sprawls on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Metamorphosis and Transgression
water that has traveled endlessly in the hydrologi-
Montreal is an island in the Saint Lawrence. Yet un-
Water is always moving: waves endlessly morph
cal cycle before undergoing the sanitizing process-
derneath many cities there is another kind of water
into crest into trough into crest. Water changes
es of a municipal water treatment plant. My body
â€“ an invisible infrastructure that supports urban
form so radically that it easily becomes humidity,
absorbs water to replenish and flush my innards.
life. The water in this buried network once fell from
fog, rain, snow, slush, ice or an oil-slicked puddle.
Eventually I urinate and then flush. Water that was
the sky, formed the current in lakes and rivers, and
In its many shapes water flows from elsewhere,
within me is suddenly without â€“ quickly moving
filtered slowly into underground aquifers. Our
through and then past urban boundaries. It bears
downstream in shared waterways. We all contrib-
municipal waters are well-traveled. For example,
traces of the places through which it flows and the
ute to the landscape.
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tribe in the Broughton Archipelago.8 On the shores
ter and sewerage are tied to these same variations in
In the spring of 2000 a powerful storm in Walk-
of James Bay, the Cree people of Kashechewan suf-
topography. Moreover, the water infrastructure of
erton, Ontario, catalysed a series of events that
fered two years under a boil-water advisory before
a large city cannot be the same as that of a smaller
introduced the deadly 0157:H7 strain of Escheria
their beleaguered situation appeared in the media
settlement. Is it actually possible to ensure equitable
coli into the municipal water supply. The pres-
as a crisis in October 2005. The panicked applica-
access to clean drinking water and good sewerage
ence of these bacteria in the drinking water killed
tion of short-sighted solutions did not address the
for communities of all kinds and sizes? This is where
seven people outright and affected many with
faulty design that had located the drinking water
the design and planning of cities becomes very im-
life-long Hemolitic Uremic Syndrome. The E. coli
intake pipe downstream from the sewage lagoon
had its source in the cattle manure spread over
over ten years ago.
Walkerton’s surrounding farms. Systems designed
Good Water is a Controlled Resource
Imagine the water of a lake in Algonquin Park.
to control water quality failed: the technical and
Water, as a utility, is only as good as it is con-
Lapping up against a rocky shore of windblown
administrative equipment of purification did not
trolled. When waters escape control problems en-
pines and the hull of your canoe, this water evokes
purge water’s memory of manure-laden fields.
sue. Consider the anxiety caused by a leaky roof or
an ideal landscape of Canadian tourism advertise-
Although triggered by a storm, it was a deadly in-
burst pipe; how a blocked sewer can flood a city
ments.13 Controlled use saves this park from the
tersection of standard farming practice, poor well
intersection; and how the inadvertent contamina-
worst environmental desecrations of intense hu-
design, inadequate privatized water management,
tion of Walkerton’s water led to death and illness.
man activity, but will this protected landscape
and underfunded un-enforced testing regulations
Canadian regulations define safe drinking water
survive airborne pollutants and global warming?
that precipitated the fatal contamination.4 Human
through threshold quantities of contaminants
Maybe the water that we conserve as ‘natural’ is re-
practices affect land and water.
known to threaten human health.
ally not that distant from the cultured (treated) wa-
700 new chemical substances patented each year,
ter of the cities. The eminent scientists of the IPCC
Access to clean drinking water and adequate
regulatory standards cannot keep pace. Water, as
(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)14
sanitation was declared a human right by the World
shared resource, is mostly publicly managed in
have stated the 90% likelihood that human activity
Health Organisation in 2003. These declarations
Canada. However scarcity always excites the mar-
has increased the rate of global warming. Should
crash into the difficult or missing access to these
kets and, through NAFTA, Canadian freshwater is
we be impressed by the power of our collective ac-
necessities in many parts of the world. Although
at chronic risk of becoming a commercialised com-
tions? It is increasingly difficult to separately treat
Canada is a vast territory with 7% of the world’s re-
modity instead of a public good.12
the natural environment and human culture. In this
newable freshwater, many here do not have access
Different Places and Access to Water:
sense, current interdisciplinary strategies seem
to clean water and sanitation.6 The most poorly
Given that access to clean water is a basic neces-
best equipped to embrace a far-sighted construc-
supplied settlements tend to be smaller communi-
sity, how does the manner in which we manipulate
tion of our world. Thinking about water, its sym-
ties.7 This autumn’s twelve-day boil-water advisory
water help or hinder equitable access? Drinkable
bolism, its materiality and its infrastructure joins
in BC may have seemed long to many, but it is short
freshwater is not evenly distributed within Canada.
the scales of personal ablutions, urbanity and en-
relative to the ten-years-and-counting advisory for
The locations of our towns and cities closely reflect
vironment. Water holds a material memory of the
the First Nations settlement of the Kwicksutaineuk
this uneven geography. The infrastructures of wa-
shared world. D
See Ivan Illich’s book: H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness: Reflections on the Historicity of ‘Stuff’. Dallas: The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. 1985. 2
Water intoxication is often a combination of hyperhydration and hyponatremia where the body’s cells lose their essential sodium levels in an attempt to equalize water within the body. The body drowns at the cellular level. The Sacramento radio station was KDND-FM. The morning show, “The End”, hosted a competition called “Hold your wee for Wii”. How can we distinguish between the need for water and the aesthetic and sensual pleasures of water in human culture? Which shaped the other? Or, put another way, pleasure and necessity are inseparable here. 3
Walkerton’s spring storm is called a ‘60-year’ storm in this online article: ‘Paying the Price for Safe Drinking Water: National Survey finds Canadians Willing to Accept Higher Water Bills’, on the Canadian Water Network website: http://www.cwn-rce. ca/index.php?fa=Media.showFeatureMay2006. 4
See Jody Berland’s article: ‘Walkerton: The Memory of Matter’. Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies. Fall.14 (2005): 93-108. 5
See WHO’s website: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/rightowater/en/. The British Medical Journal survey of major medical innovations since 1840 lists sanitation as the most significant innovation: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/334/ suppl_1/DC3. 6
See Environment Canada’s website: http://www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/info/misc/e_FAQ. htm 7
Walkerton has a population of about 4800; Kashechewan is 1700 people strong; and Kwicksutaneuk consists of 650 souls. 8
For BC and Vancouver see: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2006/11/27/bc-boil-water.html#skip300x250. For the Kwicksutaineuk-ah-kwaw-ahmish tribe see: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2005/10/31/bc_water20051031.html.
Tidal movement is also an issue as described in Mike Krebs’ article: ‘The Crisis in Kashechewan: Water Contamination Exposes Canada’s Brutal Policies Against Indigenous People’. Socialist Voice. 57. November 23, 2005. www.socialistvoice.com. 10
See Environment Canada’s website: http://www.ec.gc.ca/CEQG-RCQE/English/ Ceqg/Water/ or Health Canada’s webpage: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/watereau/drink-potab/guide-recomm_e.html. 11
Muir, Derek: ‘Organic Pollution’. Water in Canada and the World: Rising Tensions in the 21st Century – Issues and Solutions. RSC: The Academies Conference. Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa. 17 November 2006. 12
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) contains an aggressive clause in Chapter 11 that supports international exploitation of natural and national resources like freshwater. According to NAFTA once a resource has been exported commercially, it automatically falls under the rules of the free trade agreement. Under NAFTA rules a private company can sue a national government for fair market access to the now tradable and commercialised resource. This has a particular impact on the commercialization of freshwater resources in Canada and led to a February 1999 federal ban on the export of water from Lake Gisbourne in Newfoundland. Related stories are those of Sun Belt Water’s suit against BC and Canada for their failed water exportation investment and the thwarted export of water from Lake Superior. See also Karen Bakker, Eau Canada, or Eric Reguly’s article: ‘Tories face rising water pressure’. Globe and Mail. Toronto, October 10, 2006: B2. 13
Algonquin Provincial Park was only established after the old-growth forests had already been completely logged. Most old-growth forests and ‘orginal’ landscapes are long since gone in many parts of Canada. 14
The IPCC used an interdisciplinary strategy that they term ‘Earth Systems Science’ to compile their research and conclusions on climate change. Various sustainable design approaches also promote interdisciplinary collaborations, for example: LEED, BREEAM, etc.
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review | city of calgary water building by peter osborne + joylyn teskey
pushing the water agenda
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED) rating system has standardised the green agenda, provided architects with a tool to rate and promote sustainability and has given cities a way to quantify and describe sustainable design. Calgary’s Water Centre will meet or exceed the LEED silver standard.
Everything in [architecture], from its fondness for certain shapes to the approaches to specific building problems which it finds most natural, reflects the conditions of the age from which it springs. –Sigfried Giedion 1 Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Richard Branson’s $25,000,000 prize for greenhouse gas removal, and the highly publicised appointment of John Baird as Canada’s new environment minister have kept the environment front and centre on the 6 o’clock news. Sustainable development, green building and our environment are important issues these days. Environmental events such as Hurricane Katrina, 2006’s boil water order in Vancouver, and rapidly melting polar ice sheets have directed our focus onto water. Once thought of as a renewable resource, water is now perceived as a scarce commodity. Architects have long been contributors to the environmental problem; lately they are increasingly aware of a groundswell of consciousness about the environment. However there have always been some architects designing sustainable buildings. Manasc Isaacs Architects and Sturgess Architecture have collaborated in a new sustainable architecture project for the City of Calgary, the Water Centre, currently under construction on the edge of Stampede Park in the Manchester industrial area. architects + public interest + our environment + LEED = sustainable buildings The new Water Centre amalgamates four hundred waterworks and waste water department administrative staff from across the city. Although it is an office building, not a water treatment plant, the Centre’s functional design strategies and building systems make a one-to-one connection between the worker and water as a resource. Several LEED points come from water-related strategies — capturing water on site, and using it in low-flush toilets, waterless urinals and for irrigation, reduces water use by 59% and wastewater production by 72%. Architecturally, the building is detailed to reveal water. Rainwater downspouts, commonly hidden inside buildings or camouflaged on the façade, here are proudly freestanding, travelling in a straight, diagrammatic line from the curved roof to the xeriscape below. The building’s floor plan bends fluidly to the curve of the road. An arc of galvalum-clad roof starts at the street edge and curls over the building, cresting over a south-facing courtyard. The wave continues out over the entrance as a thin arch of roof supported by a lone column. The shining silver wave of wall-come-roof is supported by a variegated blue-green curtain wall which cants towards the courtyard — the aquamarine atrium is like looking through water to the outside world. The building narrows to the east like a travelling wave cresting over the courtyand. From the street however, the building appears to be a typical office building. Rectangular office spaces puncture the curve, distorting the reading of the wave.
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metaphor civic branding expressionism sustainability calgary
global markets + branding + metaphor = Bilbao effect Giedion suggests that the zeitgeist inspires architecture. Although architects are being inspired to build ‘green’, our age is defined by more than just the quest for a sustainable future. The effects of a global market and its demand for unique branding, are shaping the built environment. Architects are commissioned to produce iconic buildings whose images can be reproduced and easily associated with a particular idea and place. Their buildings must convey a message, often in direct contrast to the their functional requirements. It is not news that architecture conveys a message. Gothic forms and ornament explained Christianity to illiterate masses; an extremely rational architecture articulated twentieth century fascism in Italy and Germany; more recently architects have used increasingly expressive, metaphoric and often irrelevant forms to create image and brand recognition for cities and corporations. Metaphor gives expression to forms; sometimes it relates to a message or brand and sometimes it does not. Frank Gehry describes his work, ‘I was looking for movement earlier, and found it in fish’.2 Gehry’s metaphors of fish or luffing sails do not necessarily add meaning to the function of an art gallery, but they do bring identity to the building’s brand. In Sturgess Architecture and Manasc Isaac Architects’ first collaboration, the 1990 Yukon Visitor Reception Centre in Whitehorse, metaphor both reflected the culture of the place and brought meaning to the building. Lisa Rochon described the structure as ‘arched gluelaminated beams to echo a skeleton of a whale or the curved ribbing of a kayak’.3 Here, the metaphor gives the building an identifiable image and refers to the culture in which it resides, even if the visitor centre is neither a whale or a kayak. Metaphor is also a form generator in the Water Centre. Water, abstractly, gives the building its shape. From a distance, the rising wave form is the first and most obvious indication of the metaphor; it gives the builidng an easily understadable image, bringing attention to the City of Calgary’s green agenda. As the scarcity of clean water increases, so will the legibility of the sustainability message. However, the Water Centre only metaphorically connects both observers and users to the resource of which they are stewards: the building does not produce cleaner water for Calgary, it only represents cleaner water. Its metaphor brings attention to the greater issue but does not contribute directly to its solution. D 1
Sigfried Giedion. Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition. 5th ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982. p.19. 2
Mildred Friedman, editor. Gehry Talks: Architecture + Process. New York, New York: Rizzoli International Publications Inc., 2005. p.42. ibid, p.43. 3
Lisa Rochon. Up North: Where Canada’s Architecture Meets the Land. Toronto, Ontario: Key Porter Books Ltd., 2005. p.239.
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geography | maps of meaning by shannon harvey
branding mapping naming selling Vancouver
Branding 101: the language of location
Marketing, history, and place are all determinants in the naming of what is momentarily the latest, greatest, future home of hundreds; the hi-rise condominium. This map surveys trends in development by taking an aerial snapshot of condo lingo in Vancouver. Neighbourhoods become branded by the language of location, be it local, international, royal, artistic, exotic... tapping into societal longings and creating a collective identity for the inhabitants within.
Once the name lures you in, do you ever consider it again? Does the inhabitant of Concordia I, II or III stop and ponder their creator, Concord-Pacific, as they walk through the front door? D
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The result is a map that linguistically identifies intended character and the era in which the neighbourhood developed (the West End uses more nautical and personal names, while Coal Harbour has a distincly tropical feeling, while the new area around Gastown/ Chinatown is taking on a much more global character). Due to Vancouverâ€™s exceptional location, there is a seemingly endless list of geographic descriptors that can connect a building to a place. This use of pacific northwest/coastal specific terminology is commonly believed to create a connection people will feel. Also evident however is a certain disconnect with these surroundings and yearning for a southpacific or tropical breeze to be magically diverted our way. There is some question as to whether it is this city, this neighbourhood, or the place of our collective exotic imagination that is being referenced.
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research | north atlantic rim research collaborative by elizabeth shotton
landscape: topography, geology, vegetation, material resources, climate, and the culture that ensues from it. architecture: the built expression of both place and people.
the social construction of landscape
form and settlement
Ireland Nova Scotia Iceland Norway drawing culture architecture
1 Halten, Norway 2 Arnarstapi, Iceland 3 Lahinch, Ireland 4 Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
project: research the critical immediacy between building and landscape; how intimately architecture can be informed by place.
NAR’s series of cross-cultural studies of coastal settlements on the north Atlantic started in 2004 with initial drawing and documentation studies of coastal landscapes and settlements in Norway and Ireland. It continued the following year in Iceland, and concluded the first phase in Nova Scotia in 2006. The project has examined natural landscapes, altered landscapes, historic and contemporary building responses to these conditions, and the relationship between material resources and building form. North Atlantic coastal landscapes face significant development pressures and environmental threats to their fragile ecosystems, landforms and settlements. Conte drawings from the scale of landscape to building form and detail [page 16], scaled aerial drawings of each region, and site photography have formed a basis for comparisons, identifying salient issues of culture and settlement patterns, landscape and its relevance to built form. NAR’s project parallels Richard Saul Wurman’s work with design students at the University of North Carolina, later made into a small book called Cities: Comparisons of Form & Scale (1963). His representation of city form in sand castings inspired NAR’s study of landscape and settlement in drawings. Wurman’s thesis was that ‘the healthy existence of cities is the degree to which the beginnings of a particular city is apparent’. NAR’s focus reaches further back to the primacy of landscape to understand its critical relevance in shaping the form
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four architecture schools that form North Atlantic Rim [NAR] Research Collaborative: University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. Dalhousie University in Halifax. University College Dublin, Ireland. Academy of the Arts: Architecture and Design in Reykjavik, Iceland.
four places: Nova Scotia, coastal Norway, Iceland and Ireland, with enough similarities in landscape and subtle differences in material resources, climate and culture to make comparisons across them invaluable.
of human culture and settlement. While Wurman’s work responded to the underlying pressures on city development during the mid- to late-twentieth century, environment is key to our present and future evolution, allied to current issues of sustainability. Robert Thayer, in Gray World, Green Heart: Technology, Nature, and the Sustainable Landscape, proposes that ‘surface versus core’ is one of the most fundamental ways to understand landscape. Describing the ever widening dislocation between these two, he proposes that surface values are based on what is in front of us. As a visually-trained profession we see the surface condition of landscape, and work to reveal its poetic beauty through our remaking of its surface through building. Difficult to achieve and admirable when realized, it is the manner in which young architects are trained and old architects work. However, it does not engage the core. Core values are those hidden conditions of the land, its ecological and material processes — the operative level of landscape. Re-linking those processes construed as natural and those construed as made, challenges the surface-core dichotomy with a more holistic picture of continuity and interdependence — landscape as the thing that holds us. Sustainability as a reading of core, of processes and interrelationships, was commonplace until technology and industry severed this understanding.
Nature is an enigmatic object, an object not entirely in front of us. Nature constitutes our ground, not what is in front of us, but what holds us. Maurice Merleau-Ponty La Nature; Notes, Cours du College de France, Paris: Editions du Seuil 
However, recent ecological consequences have reached a crisis, revealing once again our interdependence with the land. This critical immediacy between landscape and building is the subject of NAR’s research — to understand how intimately architecture can be informed by its place by comparing four places of similar but unequal landscapes, with four similar but unequal legacies in building. Ireland, Norway, Iceland and Atlantic Canada share some suprising landscape alliances. Although Norway has steep mountain ranges and deep fjords, its habitable coastal lands strongly resemble the others. Each place is dominated by coastline, Iceland and Ireland as islands and Nova Scotia and Norway as peninsulas. The Atlantic Ocean tempers the environment of each, maintaining green landscapes of small valleys and hills interrupted by rock outcroppings and cliffs. It also informs the industry and culture of these regions. Subtle distinctions in form, built or unbuilt, the relationship to resources, climate and culture become manifest when studied through the discipline of drawing. When various research interests are brought to bear on the drawing project, from the relationship between perception, representation and design, to environmentallydriven focus on material resource management and use in architectural practice, a diversity of cultural, material and formal readings emerge. Excerpts from students’ notes demonstrate this vividly.
Cultural and personal backgrounds of the participants have enriched these studies. Perceptual biases both influence the reading of the terrain under investigation, and recast one’s own culture in comparison. Legacies of physical and cultural alteration to the landscape that come from inhabitation become not only explicit but also often poignant when coupled with the shared experiences of a cross-cultural research team. If limited only to the yearly exchange of ideas among students and staff, the project has value enough as it gives new insights into architectural form, space making and cultural meanings. The final stage of work this past summer in Nova Scotia was not the end of the programme but rather an elaboration of its premise — the NAR Research Collaborative joined staff and students of Dalhousie University in their ongoing Design/Build project held annually in Cheticamp, Cape Breton. The building project, an approach to a previously completed theatre project [fig 7 & 8], was an extension of the drawing studies which had identified critical aspects of the timber building tradition of Nova Scotia, and allowed the team to experiment with this knowledge through building. The second phase of the NAR project will revisit the four countries, expanding its base of documentation and including built experiments.
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1 Cape Dâ€™Or, Nova Scotia 2 Peggyâ€™s Cove, Nova Scotia 3 Cheticamp concept 4 Cheticamp record
Sketching for a number of hours along the harbour led to many observations of the pulse of the community [Peggyâ€™s Cove, NS]. A harbour is seen as a haven for vessels, giving shelter from sea and storm, and in a community which relies on the sea for the bulk of its resources this is clearly a focal point. The harbour is a shared resource and is an overlapping point of fisherman and tourist. The plans and sections of the small inlets and anchoring points we sketched began to tell the narrative of the place and the different scales examined the local material and resources used. The traditional buildings associated with fishing and lobster harvesting are constructed with tight, crisp timber-clad skins over simple, internal exposed structure. This results in strong geometric forms that over time weather like the coastal landscape to greys and silver greys. These buildings are a clear connecting form between the land and the waterway, often opening on two sides forming a through-space to allow the landscape to continue unimpeded.
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As the week developed I began to learn more about the history of ship building in Nova Scotia and its importance both past and present through the high regard for its legacy within each community that we visited. The spirit and production of the Nova Scotia shipyard was inseparable from the town with which it was associated, but over time this industry has dwindled to the extent that only traces of these shipyards remain. The legacy, however, has been instilled in the architecture of the towns and villages throughout. It had a clear influence on the timber buildings of Nova Scotia both historically and present. They are constructed somewhat like boats, their timber cladding fixed to lightweight framing. A minimum volume of material, derived from economic, renewable resources, is consumed. Dierdre Keely, University College Dublin, 2006
The first phase of documentation and analysis of the NAR studies was funded by NTNU. UCD, Dalhousie University and the EU Erasmus programme. It will be published in 2008 as Landscape: Form & Settlement and is funded in part by the Graham Foundation.
Somehow it’s easier to see home when you’re away from it. There’s a clarity that you will never find up close. I guess it depends who you’re talking to but for us Ireland is the Celtic Tiger, the influx of Eastern Europeans and the hostility to George Bush’s war as much as it is our language which we wouldn’t dream of using at home, a political struggle that’s slowing becoming history, and dancing which really does only work when everybody joins in. Comparing it to the landscapes of Nova Scotia and to a small extent Norway and Iceland which are so similar to our own, highlights with amazing precision the differences in the cultures and occupations of these places and certainly made me think about the impact inhabitation has had on the shaping of this land, and in particular the deforestation of the island [Ireland] which I understand happened over millennia but was achieved comprehensively in the seventeenth century. In the light of some exposure to the Canadian way of life, it seems to have had a massive impact both on the physical landscape and on the way we occupy it today. There was a conversation with Roger about the bogs, which Nova Scotia seemed to have a plentiful supply of. The availability of timber in that region however made the idea of harvesting these wetlands for fuel completely foreign to him. Bogs are not something which are particular to Ireland but maybe, at least in part, some of the culture I associate with them is. In the early part of the last century Padraig Pearse described them as a major source of energy for Ireland, which would secure us economic independence and stability. It’s interesting that the same resource existed in Canada without ever taking on the level of cultural significance the bogs of Ireland hold. It is more than the existence of these bogs then, that gives them their power.
Norway: Elin Corneil, Carmen Corneil, Eileen Garmann Johnsen, Are Øyasæter, Bente Skille. Ireland: Anna Ryan, Elizabeth Shotton. Iceland: Þorsteinn Geirharðsson, Steinpor Karl Karason. Canada: Ted Cavanagh, Roger Mullin.
Similarly the karst landscape of the Burren [Ireland] was evoked by the rocky outcrop we visited in the headlands of Cape Breton National Park. It’s amazing the contrast in the feeling between the two places, in one instance the landscape so dominated by occupation, the other, for me, so eerie with the lack of it. It begins to describe in a new way, that sense that you always have when you visit the isolated parts of Ireland. The struggle of man to have forced an existence out of a place so unsuited to it. It’s not about a triumph of will in the manner you find in the great cities but rather a sad and lonely story resounding in the emptiness of the vast Nova Scotian landscape. Our declaration of independence as set out in 1916 declares ‘the right of the Irish People to the ownership of Ireland’, I guess it’s that obsession with ownership and the declaration of it that causes us to build walls around everything. I found it really interesting that the Canadians didn’t feel a similar compulsion. However the lack of walls didn’t mean there were no boundaries as I found out when approached by a lady whose garden I was sitting drawing in. There were walls, my Irish eyes just didn’t see them. I didn’t realise before, that boundaries have a cultural expression. I’m really interested in landscape, the effect occupation has on the land but more interestingly the effect it has on us. I’m interested in how we perceive it, how we perceive ourselves in relation to it and how architecture might manipulate that perception, increasing our awareness of the land and trying to re-establish some of the broken threads which connect us to it. Understanding my own perceptions through visiting a place that was so physically similar to Ireland but significantly culturally different was really valuable. Sinead Cahill, University College Dublin, 2006
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Water crises threaten both life and traditions in sub-Saharan Africa
essay| canada council prix de rome 2005 by taymoore balbaa
the weight of wealth
traditional building wells health culture children
We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. â€” Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia
1 Water is pulled up mainly by women and children. Niger 2 Tuareg boy at well 3 Camels refreshing, Niger. Livestock congregate at the wells, and wait their turns to drink.
We operate in a culture of abundance. Slowly we have comprehended the amounts of waste this has produced. Heeding the call of sustainability may begin to reverse the damage but as citizens of a land of plenty, we have clearly abstracted our dependence on the most basic elements. When considering the force of water, our education (as architects) has focused on Roman Baths to Fallingwaters but does not prepare us for a shortage of this resource.
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Water is life. Each drop gains new weight where it is in short supply, or when it must be drawn from a well 50 metres below a scorched surface. In the spring of 2006 I gained a much greater appreciation for it while traveling through Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco and Southern Spain. Lack of water affects all of these places to varying degrees but nowhere during this journey was it more pronounced than in Sub-Saharan communities in Mali and Niger.
4 Mud dwellings in Djenne. 5-6 The greatest outside contributions have been by people working directly with the afflicted communities. One such example is Dutch architect Joop van Stigt, who has been offering his skills to the Dogon people of Mali for decades. He has built numerous schools here and has constructed many wells with a network of local people.
banko â€” water, rice sheath aggregate and clay, supports a cycle of repair that maintains the physical integrity of these buildings for centuries
Drought has devastated the south of Niger, and a recent famine in 2005 killed many people. Although not witness to this particular tragedy, I did visit communities fighting disaster on many fronts. On the receding frontiers with the Sahara desert, mankind struggles to protect the lives of children, and to protect a way of life. Yet in the face of impending malnutrition, disease and death, clean water is a main source of resistance. If it is available for all, and clean, then it not only directly sustains the lives of men, women, and children, but also agriculture and livestock, and is the fundamental ingredient in the construction and maintenance of shelter. With regards to this sustenance of the built environment, the preservation cycle of mud-brick architecture is based on water. Water, along with a rice sheath aggregate, is mixed with the cement-like clay found on river banks. The result, banko, is used to replenish homes, mosques, and marketplaces twice a year. One
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application follows the rainy season, when water begins to dissolve buildings like sugar cubes. The other follows the dry season, when lack of water dries and splinters the organic makeup of the walls. This basic and utilitarian application has maintained the physical integrity of these buildings for centuries. It also nourishes tradition by training the next generation of masons. Beyond this achievement, architecture that is built by hand and constructed with a natural palette of materials reaches truly evocative and sculptural highs. Photographs from the journey show suggestive formal expressions of master masons and common people alike. Although such creations are a product of distant origins, they remain in a constant state of change and evolution. It is their very cycle of existence that gives them such plasticity.
6-9 The continuation of tradition: Adolescent boys mix water and clay and work it thoroughly to produce the banko. Young boys carry this to the master masons, who in turn give the building the fresh layer of material. 10 Bricks harvested right outside the door of a home. Sustainability in its truest form.
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10 An abandoned home left as a solid mass. 11 A door consumed by hardened mud in an abandoned home. 12 A new cityscape of brick and cement homes, and poured concrete decoration â€”all in Djenne, Mali 13 A recently restored madrasa, or Koranic school with sculptural portal.
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It is unfortunate that vernacular or traditional architecture tends to fall outside current discourse on sustainability when it has shown its ability to survive in the harshest environments and with the least resources. But this wealth of inspiration and wisdom is threatened daily. Drought has affected the lives of many. It has brought locusts, mosquitoes, and malaria. It has forced mass migrations and urbanisation. In the case of nomadic tribes, water shortage has resulted in the need to settle for the first time in their history. Farmers are now forced to grow only dryland crops such as millet and sorghum. Prices in markets are high as a result of demand, and malnutrition is endemic. In one village, a tainted water supply (the village had only one open well) had caused much sickness amongst the children and had killed much of the livestock. The effect on the built environment has also been considerable. With more pressing issues at hand, more and more mud construction is being abandoned, and left to melt into a solid dirt mass within the urban fabric. In the case of Agadez, Niger, neo-colonial foreigners buy derelict and abandoned properties (for relatively little) within the historic centre and put up high-walled vacation complexes. In other cases, locals may replace the traditional home with one of brick and cement, primarily for less short-term maintenance. The magnitude of these and other problems is alarming. Yet if we do indeed consider ourselves part of a global community (since we in the West reap the economic benefits of globalisation), then those in more fortunate circumstances should at least bridge the effects of our wasteful industrialisation with the plight of those living in shadow of our indifference. If indeed global temperatures are to rise 4-6 degrees in the future, it is these parts of the world that will suffer even greater devastation, and we will passively witness the loss of something great.
14 The oasis of Timia, Niger. Abundant water has not stopped the spread of preventable yet deadly diseases. In the background, one sees the Ayr mountains and a nineteenth century French fort, remnant of a colonial past. In the foreground lies the current infant cemetery, filled to capacity. 15 Returning from the market, Dogon Country, Mali 16 A bleak future for children in both Niger and Mali
the well is the lifeblood of these villages and towns â€” the need to build more wells is urgent
The need to build wells is urgent at the moment. In Western economic terms, the cost of building a solid, 25 metre-deep well (with pump) is negligible when compared to the benefit it can bring to an entire community, costing roughly the same amount as a lower-end laptop computer. In towns and villages, and across the many ethnic divides of these regions, a network of people wait for real and direct assistance from more economically fortunate people like ourselves. The trickle-down reality of many large and corrupted NGOs is insufficient, and time is of the essence. The well is the lifeblood of these villages and towns. With arresting strength, lean children buckle under the immense weight of overflowing containers before the long and dusty walk home. If we are to practice and preach sustainability, we should at the very least shoulder the same burden. D
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revista | water treatment by paul whelan
building civic narratives that read like novels
City of Toronto Archives
Toronto infrastructure Michael Ondaatje water filtration architecture R C Harris beaux-arts functionalism
Lacking any kind of magical foundation story, Toronto craves a mythology. It’s often left up to artists to create the magical bedrock for a city’s future mythology. In Toronto, poet bp Nichol developed an urban imagary through a creative rereading of its geography and street names. And it was Michael Ondaatje’s 1987 novel, In the Skin of a Lion, that widely disseminated a personal myth of the city’s coming of age. The novel focuses on the Bloor Street viaduct and the Victoria Park Filtration Plant, both constructed in the 1920s and 30s through the bullheadedness of a remarkable civil servant, RC Harris, Toronto’s Commissioner of Works.
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Harris proposed that a 2-mile intake tunnel be built under Lake Ontario, terminating at a new filtration plant. In Ondaatje’s novel the filtration plant is referred to as the Palace of Purification. The industrial processing of water may seem an odd choice for the basis of a new mythology, but as was well understand by all ancient cultures, the regulation of water underlies both the foundation of the city as well as its on-going well-being. Ondaatje portrays Harris as a mythic hero who provides the vision, ambition and political will, while Thomas Pomphrey, the filtration plant’s architect, provides the architectural expression to house Harris’s project.
City of Toronto Archives
Early in the book, while talking with Pomphrey, Harris muses, ‘before the real city could be seen it had to be imagined, the way rumours and tall tales were a kind of charting’. Toronto’s filtration plant is a testament to this kind of imagining, an architectural anomoly mysteriously beached on the shores of Lake Ontario. Contemplating this beaux arts composition with its grass terraces, palaces and commanding views, it is almost sacrilage to believe that its raison d’être was simply to solve Toronto’s water purity problems by processing millions of litres of lake water.
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The architecture is modernist in the direct way that structures and their placement reflect the inward flow of water and the industrial production of clean drinking water. In contrast, the architectural styling shares nothing with a reductive modernist sensibility. The materials alone — yellow brick, limestone, copper, bronze, terrazzo floors, black marble, herringbone tile work and fine plaster, coupled with inventive detailing and fine craftsmanship — create a sumptuous environment in which the mechanics of the pumps and controls are elevated to a shining, functional art.
City of Toronto Archives
In the Skin of a Lion in many ways parallels Roman Polanski’s equally mythic film, China Town. Ondaatje’s dream-like quality sets it apart from Polanski’s harder-nosed struggle over water supply in the creation of modern Los Angeles. Certainly there is a comparative reading in the privatised and violent nature of American birth as opposed to the civil service Canadian approach. But in the end there are the respective stories and their artifacts.
The pump house, in an elegant ballroom, is at the lowest terrace, nearest the water — an aqueous anteroom to the purification project further up the terraces. The alum tower marks the next step on the water’s path to purification. Water passes under the tower and coagulant is dropped into it before the underground pipe turns 90 degrees to approach the filter building on axis, a simultaneous beaux-arts compositional rule and a modernist functional diagram. Small particulates in the water adhere to the alum, sinking to the bottom of settling tanks. Clean water is then piped to the city. The tower could easily have been a simple metal tank, but is instead a vertical punctuation mark on a horizontal process. The functionally unnecessary top floor belvedere exists only to offer powerful views of Lake Ontario. The upper ground is dominated by the sprawling filter building, buttressed by administration towers that flank a monumental arched entry. An octagonal rotunda marks the crossing of the filtration building wings and the administration building. In the centre of the rotunda is a pylon providing 26
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data on filtration rates, water capacity and time of day. Like the entire plant, this device only needed to be a prosaic piece of equipment, but instead is celebrated and elevated in an elaborately detailed stone obelisk. At every turn our expectations about water filtration are eclipsed by the exuberance of Pomphrey’s architectural ambition for mere infrastructure, almost as if Nicola Salvi and Pope Clement XII had re-imagined a Trevi Fountain to celebrate the arrival of water in the modern city. What of Ondaatje’s fascination with the palace of purification? It is possible that the Harris filtration plant is just one site for inventing a Toronto mythology. Perhaps Ondaatje’s novel is a single particle of alum dropped into raw lake water. With enough alum, maybe a movie or two, the ooze that settles from the raw water will become the material of rumours and tall stories. And while we wait for the stories to accrete, we celebrate the delivery of clean water. D
catchbasins, West Vancouver, since 2004. ‘leads to fish habitat’ and ‘do not pollute’ Arthur Anderson
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water: baroque, uncontainable, unfortunately invisible in the modern city
observation | waterloo in rome project by david takacs
fountains roman aqueducts piazzas expression celebration
david takacs collection
I recently spent a term in Rome discovering not only its history of Emperors and Popes, but also water. I could immediately feel the physical place that water occupied in the city. A public fountain provided drinking water in the small street next to my apartment; close by were the ruins of a thermae. Rome never had much water, yet great efforts were made to provide it to the entire city and to celebrate it – on the banks of the Tiber, in fountains, in aqueducts and sewers, and the thermae. In Rome water is both scarce and everywhere, exactly opposite to Canada where it is plentiful, but often invisible. Even at a lake cottage, water is only a means to recreation — there is little sense of mystery in such a relationship. We only notice water when something goes wrong, such as the E. coli contaminations in Walkerton and boil-water advisories on native reserves. The Harris filtration plant in Toronto is a glorious exception to the rule of water thoughtlessness. It celebrates water in enormous pools framed by bold classical architecture: water here is something truly precious. In this sense, the Harris filtration plant is a Roman building.
Throughout Rome’s history, architectural genius articulated and celebrated water: it told of the origin of the community on the Tiber Island, shown sailing through the river like the ship the ancients thought it to be. Fountains that provided clean water to the city spouted wild and noisy currents, reaching for greatness by glorifying water. Bold and monumental aqueducts and that most ancient of sewers, the Cloaca Maxima, served as an embodiment of civic and political power: the ability to provide clean water was in the Roman republic the hallmark of good and responsible government. And water was the principal building material in the steam-filled, atmospheric haze of the thermae. ‘Material is endless’ states Peter Zumthor in his aptly titled book Atmospheres, and water is no different. It can lie flat and still, or run with a current. It can fall down or spring up, over great distances. It can reflect and refract not only the sun’s rays, but anything placed behind or around it. Zumthor rediscovered what the Romans already knew when he recreated the Roman thermae in the thermal baths at Vals, Switzerland.
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1 R C Harris Water Filtration Plant Filter Gallery, 1932-41, Toronto 2 The Tiber in flood. This photo, one of my inspirations, was on the wall of a café I used to visit everyday. 3 Alicante University Museum by Alfredo Payá Benedito, 1998. 4-6 The Mausoleum of Augustus, the site of my piazza redevelopment project. The treed centre becomes an island during the day and reverts to being a piazza at night, showing how mutable and malleable water can be in the urban environment.
Rome also knew to fear water. It ravaged the city in annual floods until engineers developed practical flood control solutions, transforming mystery to be pondered into a problem to be solved. Modern Rome has almost pushed water out of its consciousness.Water as a building material in the thermae ceased when Christianity condemned the lazy hedonism of the baths. With the collapse of the Roman Empire and the idea that good government applied first to the material world, aqueducts and sewers lost their symbolic function. Under the Popes, water’s remaining symbolic function was in baptism, and for many centuries since, water has been seen as simply an infrastructure problem. Fountains, that in their Baroque plenitude had celebrated the fullness of water as a source of life, had no place in the clean lines that arched from the neoclassical to the modern where still, geometric pools of water were locked in landscaped gardens. The final blow arrived with the construction, between 1876 and 1926, of the Tiber river walls, rendering the river, and with it the origin of the city, invisible to its inhabitants.
My final project for the Rome term was the redevelopment of a piazza, aiming to show water once again for what it is: our most valuable resource. Every morning, water arrives through a myriad of channels, flooding the piazza; and every evening it is drained away, returning the piazza to the city. It is through this water cycle that a now-dormant site is awakened. In our globalised world no project is only local, and I thought of Alfredo PayĂĄ Beneditoâ€™s Alicante University Museum, constructed in Spain in 1998. Built on what was once the outer edge of the Roman Empire, this museum uses water to transform an orange, fiery building into a cool element seemingly natural to its site. Many Roman emperors, born at the edge of the Empire, brought the energy of the periphery back to its centre â€“ much as I believe we now must do, bringing the energy of the past to the forefront.
I have returned to Canada, but not without absorbing my own lesson of Rome: when one uses water in design, it speaks to both the loftiest of aspirations and to the most fundamental of requirements. If we are to adjust to a world with little water, we will, as was done in the past, have to think of water as more than something that comes effortlessly out of a tap. Once again we will need to render it precious, symbolising the role and power water has in our lives. D
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infrastructure | agua branca, são paulo by fernando de mello franco marta moreira milton braga
redefining the power of São Paulo’s infrastructure
flood control informal development sectors open space infrastructural systems piscinões
Out of the several infrastructures belonging to São Paulo, water and transportation systems have always flowed through the same routes. São Paulo was built in the late industrialisation boom at the end of the nineteenth century. Successive migratory inflows supplied the city with a workforce, setting off a vicious cycle of population growth. Throughout the twentieth century, the metropolis went from 250 thousand to 18 million inhabitants, something like constructing 35 Brasílias, on the same site, in just a hundred years. The city has been built by two contrasting forces: on one hand, selected investments in the modernisation of São Paulo’s economic base; on the other, the individual initiatives of a population in search of shelter, generally constructed in a spontaneous, ‘informal’ manner at the fringes of the legal city. São Paulo can be interpreted through the logic of the construction that privileged its productive sectors at the expense of its informal sectors.
On the verge of summer, when pluviometric rates in São Paulo are at their highest, the chronic problem of flooding resumes. With the intense process of disorderly urbanisation, the soil has become excessively impermeable. The transformation and occupation of São Paulo Basin riverbanks and fluvial plains, which used to control water flows, just worsen the problem. The entire population is hit by the flooding. Underprivileged populations who live close to water flows in historically depreciated areas are directly affected in their own dwellings. The risk situation of these populations represents for every public administration a reason for concern, which might be either of lower or higher level, according to their social commitment. This issue has never been tackled in an 30
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effective manner, and suffers with continual government changes and discontinuity. The population not affected in their own dwellings is affected by difficulties imposed by a lack of mobility when the main road system, situated on a tableland and strategically placed parallel to the water ways, floods. As water incapacitates traffic flow, the problem gains a metropolitan dimension, also reaching production sectors. As flooding is a factor of urban diseconomy, harming the efficient flow of people and goods, it belongs to the city administration plan and political agenda, to which successive governments have allocated funds, although never enough. In this investment, there is an opportunity for action, pinpointing needy areas throughout the metropolis.
articulating systemic and local concerns: the network of piscinões The issues involving water resources — urban drainage, sanitation and water supply —are complex and demand efforts at both macro and micro levels. Since 1990 it has been dealt with by the State Plan of Water Resources (PERH) and Macro-drainage plan for the Upper Tiete Basin. One of the solutions proposed for city flooding is the construction of a set of large reservoirs, piscinões, to retain and control rain water, holding it back from city rivers and streams, reducing any overflow. In short, the piscinão replaces the original regulating function of the fluvial plains, now occupied and fully impermeable. Presently, there are about 39 built reservoirs out of a total estimate of 131, which will be able to hold 15.5 million cubic metres of water. They are distributed throughout the micro-tributary basins of Tiete River, covering the entire São Paulo water system. Many are located in peripheral areas, close to informal sectors of city occupation. Thus, in order to face the metropolitan dimension of flooding problems, there must be some meaningful public investment in peripheral areas. Finding a fit between the metropolitan and local dimensions of this question is the starting point toward any solution. The ‘informal’ sectors have the most need for public spaces. In São Paulo, where disputes over space are often mediated by violence, there are still some unoccupied areas: pieces of land usually devoted to football fields, and other community activities. In the informal sectors, samba, funk dance and football matches are important events for the construction of social and communal networks, highly necessary for the strengthening of relationships to resist the adversities present in a large metropolis. They are a spontaneous manifestation that shows the value of public space in these areas. The collection of vacant urban spaces in São Paulo that can be converted into an opportunity for a new network of public spaces. For example, the piscinão is only active about 3 to 4 months out of the year, during high-water periods. For the other months it is idle. New programs can be added to the piscinão, building on the future steps of the Macro-drainage Plan. Piscinões unite both the system of the borough’s public spaces and the technical system for the drainage, treatment and re-use of water resources. They can serve as a landmark and spatial reference on the cityscape of the borough, laying water’s claim to the floodplain.
SÃO PAULO: WATER VOIDS MMBB: Fernando de Mello Franco, Marta Moreira, Milton Braga team: Lucas Girard, Manon Fantini, Marina Sabino, Rodrigo Brancher collaborators: Armando Tobias de Aguiar , Renato Cymbalista photographers: Lalo de Almeida, Nelson Kon
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Sao Paulo will have to be consistent in managing its natural resources in a sustainable and rational manner. In this context, the effective urban reconfiguration of an area as large the proposed new borough in Água Branca can only be achieved through the infrastructural planning of the region. However, an intervention on this scale essentially means defining the design of that urban infrastructure, giving legible form to a strategic action on behalf of the public authorities. The association between transport and waterrelated issues in Sao Paulo surfaces here as a project theme, broached through a consequent critical deportment. New train stations on existing lines are proposed to fulfill a strategic role as points of mediation between scales, and to serve as links between the metropolitan transport non-polluting railway system and the localities. In our project, these train stations are organized as agglomeration points for public facilities, special services and social housing. Another matter is the definition of public spaces in this project: recreational and gathering spaces, which seek proximity with the circulation system and with the watercourses, arise out of precisely this conviction. The resulting water square holds both the system of the borough’s public spaces and the technical system for the drainage, treatment and re-use of water resources. Fruit of a wellspring of non-contaminated groundwater, it will serve as a landmark and spatial reference on the cityscape of the borough, laying water’s claim to the floodplain, at once technical and symbolic, rigorous and crystalline. D
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Re-urbanization of Água Branca, São Paulo, SP, 2004.
REURBANIZATION OF ÁGUA BRANCA, 1996, São Paulo, Brasil authors: Fernando de Mello Franco, Marta Moreira and Milton Braga, in association with Camila Toledo Fabrini, Guilherme Wisnik, Martin Corullon and Roberto Klein team: Anja Kolher, Anna Ferrari, Márcia Terazaki, Flávio Rezende, Marina Acayaba, Marina
Sabino, Thiago Rolemberg consultants: Sarah Feldman, Silvana Rubino. José Eduardo Cavalcante area: 100 hectares 3D model: Roberto Klein
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urban typology accidents by joey giaimo
condo towers scaffolding water leaks residential types Vancouver
The perpetual buzz of building activity in downtown Vancouver — 46 residential complexes currently under construction — is contributing to the accumulation of a single building type. The exalted condominium tower on a podium has resulted in thousands of hastily injected living units in the downtown core. Planners have long recognised the shortcomings of this typological saturation, yet have had to accept the consequent exhaustion of downtown lots. Besides a questionable density of inhabitants, with each concrete pour the end product is clear: another podium, another tower, another quasi-public space. Difference is presented in tweaks and gimmicks rather than forceful pushes towards less predictable, more challenging directions.
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Fleeting Occurrences Every new hole in the ground, the inevitable erection of the crane and its associated surface activities interrupt, disrupt and reorganise public space. In Vancouver the choreography of city building is well rehearsed, as are the concessions made by those who walk, pace and wander through it. Downtown flâneurs have prudently unleashed those turtles that haven’t already been crushed by the tenton trucks which jerk and chug from one site to the next. There is always room for optimism — these transient disruptions provide an alternate way to negotiate city surfaces and form. But a different kind of construction activity is also taking place, one linked with two words, leaky and condo, always spoken under Vancouver’s breath, and one that, catalysed not by construction fever but by its failure, inadvertantly re-represents or even de-represents architecture in the cityscape.
Ghost Building In the frenzy of building activity a number of scaffolds wrap previously completed structures. Scaffolds come in various guises but typically are cloaked with an emerald green perforated fabric — a unique and detailed veiling. However, there are variations: several skids of brick in the lane behind one building signal cladding replacement. To maintain a consistent mortar temperature, the scaffolding has been wrapped in an opaque, silky white sheathing to hold tempered air between drape and façade. A phantasmic presence, this wrapped building marks a striking difference to the stock of condo towers dotting the downtown core. It may look like just another leaky condo but it is also a spectacular and captivating phenomenon, a changeling in this ephemeral condition.
nal and internal uniformity of high-rise residential living throughout the peninsula. While condo marketing and architecture collude to sell the ideal interior condition, Ghost Building has propelled this condition to its absurd apotheosis. Ghost Building’s fabric has imprisoned the inhabitants in an interiority that has everything they paid for, except that all important view. In a further irony, the fabric delights only those looking at it from the outside, turning the whole notion of privileged lifestyle on its head, and pointing out how transitory a thing lifestyle is. Beyond Lifestyle Processes of construction, decay and repair flag the shortcomings of unrelenting urbanistic production: Ghost Building’s interruptive architecture dislays all the urban and formal contradictions of Vancouver’s insistent residential tower type. D
Something of Difference I don’t wish to present Ghost Building as ‘good architecture’ or as an urban success story. Its premise is based in failures that are a menace to its inhabitants; it is ethereal but an aberration. But by effectively shutting itself off, it questions both the exter-
Mute Rendering Formally, the Ghost Building presents itself like all the others, twenty to thirty-something storeys extruded vertically and placed the bylaw eighty feet from its neighbours. In its simple slip, it has masked itself from the city and bowed out of the point-tower posturing race. However, this new typology has inadvertantly transformed the everyday into event. Ghost Building grabs attention with an undeliberate ingenuity that other condos would like, but can’t. The draw of its pillowy skin is immediate. It undulates. It shakes and shivers. It billows and shimmers. At night it is a glowing collage with subtle punctuations of colour from the still-occupied units inside. Positioned in a field of static sameness, this wrapped building makes no overt claims for attention, but its silence commands attention anyway. Muffled and mute, the building is inconclusive. Ghost Building’s detached, new intensity contests the city’s zealous efforts to provide the perfect mould for city living. The decorative nips, tucks, swirls and swooshes of the neighbours look insufficient and superfluous against its tremulous mass. Androgenous, silkily clad and not its muscular brick self, the Ghost Building also obscures all those involved in the its original presence: the planners, the advisory design panels, the city’s council, local community groups, the architects, the engineers, the endless assortment of building consultants, the marketing team and ultimately even the building’s own inhabitants, who register only when their lights are on at night.
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engineering | rfr-paris footbridge by henry bardsley
A lenticular pedestrian bridge adds to the engineering legacy of Paris
Passerelle Simone de Beavoir
lenticular truss double curves french engineering rivers foundations
RFR ingénieurs, an multidisciplinary firm founded by Peter Rice, Martin Francis and Ian Ritchie in 1982, specialises in extreme and complex structures. Its use of contemporary material technology and construction methods continues a tradition of Parisian technical modernity. One of RFR’s recent projects (19992006) is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine, linking two railyard redevelopments in the east of Paris: housing and a park at Bercy and tertiary industry at Tolbiac. The footbridge crosses the Seine in single span of 190 metres. There are three spans all together, one crossing the river and two crossing the quay side roads, in total 270 metres long. The formal structure is a pectinate lenticular truss; its component geometries are reminiscent of some existing bridge forms of Paris, particularly the dominant arch shape and early experiments in suspension bridges by Navier. Also, opposing curves are characteristic of RFR’s work. The unitary central vesica, barged down the Rhine, by Vlissingen, Cap Gris Nez, and up the Seine, was pulled into position in one night, without falsework. Three deck ribbons follow two opposing
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curves, the central deck rising with one curve whilst the flanking decks fall with the other. The truss is deep only where depth is useful — a covered belvedere on the river in the central lens gives shelter from the rain, and there is dept at the end points of support to accommodate the different quay levels that characterise the morphology of Paris. The structure and the deck are geometrically separate. Two parallel vertical trusses, 5metres apart, place half the pedestrian surfaces outside the structure, with an open view to the river. This configuration makes the bridge quite slender transversely, which is compensated for by continuity with lateral spans. The shear strength of the truss is provided by the parabolic geometry of the booms for uniform loads and radiating obelisks for partial loads. The obelisks give bending restraint to the stiff compression boom. This system, invented for the specific context of the Paris Seine landscape, is called a pectinate truss. The compliant bending stiffness of the elements provides shear stiffness without compromising the differentiation of the tension and compression booms. The deflections of
the apparently slender structural depth are controlled by the moment continuity at the supports. The structure is intentionally flexible, able to react to wind and pedestrian movement. Movement, a reminder of high intrinsic strength and economy of material and energy, dampens vibrations, along with tuned mass dampers which limit vibration for safety and comfort. The deck has a designed porosity to avoid the very unusual Scanlan coefficients which are characteristic of this topology in section. At the abutments a pair of slotted vertical tension plates and bilinear struts transfer forces from the truss to the foundations. The foundations are reinforced concrete barettes, anchored in the underlying limestone. Tension foundations using piles, whether prestressed or with corrosion resistant reinforcement, are not presently recognised by French national codes, so pre-stressed proprietary ground anchors have been used. These are placed in a way that allows them to be monitored, and eventually replaced.
The two types of foundation are both made up of concrete barettes of rectangular cross section. A compact milling machines was used because of the poor bearing capacity and the narrow access to the lower quay level. The cut passed through the alluvion down into the top of the strong limestone horizon. The cut was stabilised with thixotropic bentonite mud. The steel reinforcing cages are lowered into the mud and the concrete placed though a tube to the the bottom. The steel cables which
precompress the tension foundation, are cemented into steel tubes, which are themselves cemented into individual hole bored through the limestone The barettes and cables are permanently equipped with measuring devices. The measurement of the frequency of a stressed wire in each barrette allows the strain to be determined over time. Load cells under the anchor head of the cables indicated the force. The main tension plates of the superstructure are
anchored on a hammer head, which applies a compression force to the back of the concrete ground beams. The hammer head is the first part of the steel superstructure to be delivered to site, for the concrete substructure to be cast around it. The jacks, at the steel/concrete interface, can fine tune the altitude of the centre of the bridge, compensating the slight movement of the foundations and the fabrication tolerances.
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The fabrication of the steel structure was carried out in the cities of Lauterbourg Nantes and Charleville-Mézières. Lengths of laminated steel and different shapes of cast steel were assembled by manual and semi-automatic welding. The laminate steel is in several grades of toughness; the thick tension member is in S355NL grade, the less thick plates in the compression boom, and the support moment transformer is in S355N. These are fine grained structural steels. In the code S symbolises Structural, 355 is the nominal strength as the elastic limit, in MPa., N symbolises Normalised (the steel is heated then allowed to cool slowly) and L symbolises that is has good low temperature toughness. The steel is also shown to have good transverse ductility, to avoid crcking under the welds of the fasces. The steels are made in Dillingen, Ittre and Outreau. Other materials had been considered during the design process. The higher strength steels, grade S420, were interesting but not widely available, and the reduction of section would have caused an unfortunate increase in deflections.
C’est une poutre á treilis lenticulare avec une âme pectiné. Cette partie de l’ouvrage mesure 108m de long, 12m de large et pése 540 tonnes. Le programme probable de son passage est le suivant: 7:30h départ du Quai du Point do Jour Bologne 8:00h Tour Eiffel 8:30 Pont de la Concorde 9:00h Pont Neuf 9:30h Pont de la Tournelle 10:00h Quai de Bercy å une heure prés ... RFR-Paris www.rfr.fr Affaire 500 29/11/05 hb
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La vesica centrale de la plus récente des passerelles sure la Seine a Paris, en provenance des ateliers de Lauterbourg d’Eiffel, ayant descendu le Rhin, longé la Manche, remonté la Seine, traversera la ville par voie d’eau, le mercredi 30 novembre 2005.
The dampers are placed where they are the most effective, at the position of largest displacement for the principal modes both for the free dampers, and for the anchored dampers. The design chose from the outset a slender light structure susceptible to perceptible vibrations, but controlled by dampers for each of the significant modes. Very extensive studies, using modal, and step by step methods, were used in the design phase, to predict the acceleration from wind turbulnece and pedestrain steps. However the real structure and the model are inevitably different, with local friction and secondary continuity. After construction the vibrations of the structure were measured and compared with the predictions. This confirmation of the frequencies of the modes permitted in turm the confirmation of the masses in the damping devices. D
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Cient and Owner: Direction de la Voirie et des Déplacements, Ville de Paris, M.Miller Maîtrise d’oeuvre: Joint Venture FA and RFR Consultants: RFR-Stuttgart and Sepia Structure: Footbridge 270m long with a central span of 190m and two side spans. Selection Procedure: Laureat of an international invited competition in 1998. Projet Authors: Henry Bardsley & DietmarFeichtinger RFR Competition Team: Henry Bardsley, Aurelian Trutt, Mathias Kutterer, Jean Francois Blassel, Bernard Vaudeville. RFR Projet Team: Mathias Kutterer, Valerie Boniface, Marc Bernard, Jacques Malet, Raphael Menard, Berhardt Sill. RFR Projet Director: Francois Consigny followed by Bernard Vaudeville. External Audit, structure: Setra, Daniel Le Faucher, Joel Raoul. Aerodynamics: Michael Hortmanns RWTH, Aachen Wind Tunnel Tests: RWTH, Aachen Anthropogenic Dynamics: 1 Alan McRobie, University of Cambridge, 2 Raphael Menard RFR
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Architect: DFA Constructor Steel Structure: Eiffel SA Work shop drawings, construction analysis and damper tuning: Eiffel SA, and Setec TPI Constructor Ground Anchors and Barettes: Soletanche Bachy. Images: Feichtinger, RFR, for the competition Edie Young Start of Foundation contract: 2004 Start of RFR contract: 1997 What did RFR do? Competition Scheme and presentation to the jury, with the quay side links, the central sheltered belvedere, the ribbons. MOP contract, Basic and Complementary. Invention of a structure specific to the morphology of the site, and the development of the penticulate system. Sketch drawings, Structural Analyses; static, linear and geometrically non linear; dynamic, modal and step by step . Management of the procurement, cost control, and works contracts. Special thanks to Sophie le Bourva and Pat Dallard Contact: Henry Bardsley, RFR
Worried about rising sea levels? Go to the Netherlands — they have lots of experience with such things
engineering | foundations and infrastructure by paul whelan
soggy bottom architecture
rising sea levels raft foundations landscape reservoir control Netherlands the Venice solution
According to a pair of studies published in the journal Science, global warming has already committed our planet to rising sea-levels. Jonathan Overpeck, an earth scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson who co-authored both studies, says that the sea level will rise at rates of up to a metre per one hundred years — and it could go faster. Humans are vulnerable because we build most of our cities in low coastal areas. The recent example of New Orleans and the ongoing struggle between the Netherlands and the sea are reminders of our future reality. We know that the water is rising, so what can we do? The obvious answer is to reduce our dependence on carbon....but humans are catastrophically bad at taking preventative actions. Inevitably we will have to adapt to global warming and all its consequences, including higher sea levels. However, there is a continuum of available responses ranging from holding back the water, making our buildings float, or simply doing nothing. Water Storage in the Delta Metropolis, H+S+N Landschapsarchitecten, Utrecht. 1 The evolving water-task is formulated as a stimulant water realm; allure and connective element for leisure, investors, fauna and flora. 2 Seemingly neglectable height differences are of particular importance with maintaining water in the flattish Netherlands 3 Main components of the new water system: location for peak water retention, reservoir for salt water storage, reservoir for sweet water storage, and an enlivened interconnective water system.
If we decide to fight the seas and hold the water back, the Netherlands offers planning, engineering and political lessons. Their extensive systems of dykes, dams and drainage strategies are designed to keep land below sealevel dry. Rising sea levels threaten the entire country. Recently a Dutch landscape firm, H+N+S, have proposed a new response to the triple threat of rising sea levels, subsiding land and increasing rains. To dampen the impact of ever-increasing storm surges, H+N+S propose selectively channeling the water behind the defences. H+N+S advocate catchment systems for fresh and salt water and resevoirs for excess rainfall. This strategy will require relinquishing land so strenuously won from the sea. The landscape will change from traditional farmland with water chanels and ditches to one of raised lakes and resevoirs – a kind of non-sensical contour map. However, it could be the only way the Netherlands can save its country. Regardless of the engineering and planning, the Dutch rely on a highly centralised government to construct and maintain their sea defenses. Their system of participatory and centralised democracy is a political anomoly and I fully expect that fighting the sea would more likely result in less-friendly autocratic government.
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Waterstudio.NL 4 Health Enjoyment and Challenge Centre, near Oranjestad, Aruba â€” a floating hotel and medical centre, 2007-8 5 Watervilla Aalsmeer, a private house, 2004 6 Apartment complex, Woubrugge, 2007 6
Happily, buildings can float. There are two models for floating foundations. The Canadian model is based on the diving raft with concrete poured around polystyrene. These structures are unsinkable, but tend to be less stable for non-square geometries. Not surprisingly, the Dutch have been experimenting with floating buildings. Based on the river barge, Dutch technology consists of a floating concrete container in which the lower level becomes an underwater basement. Waterstudio Architects of Holland have designed floating houses and are currently developing a 25-storey floating office tower and courtyard housing prototypes. To date, floating buildings depend on nearby dry land for services or are anchored with mooring poles that also provide an umbilical connection for services. Without sea defences, floating buildings will be extremely vulnerable to increasingly violent storms, except where large expanses of newly inundated lagoons could provide a storm-damping environment in flat low-lying areas. Floating buildings could be effective in marshy delta areas that are already threatened by rising waters. 5
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7 New New York. Hugo Arriojas, 2007
Do Nothing Romanticism
Doing nothing may ultimately be the most romantically compelling response to rising sea levels. Venice, a city that accepts its regular inundations, may offer the most clues for the benign-neglect approach. As Venice slowly disappears, many other cities could take its place as a magical tourist destination. Imagine gondoliering through a New York transformed into a city of canals and skyscrapers. However, a deliriously wet New York will ultimately require serious design to ensure the right level of submersion. At the very least, infrastructure such as the subways, potable water, power and sewage would have to be re-engineered. Saving our sinking sea-level cities will be an expensive undertaking. The capital needed to re-engineer an entire city will be scarce as businesses move away to drier and higher ground. Whole districts of the city will elegantly decay as the water laps at their second floor windows. We live in an era where financial markets dictate settlement form. As in Venice, it is quite likely that at some tipping point, the rich will abandon the coasts for safer inland settlements, leaving the poor to cope with their deteriorating coastal cities. In any built response to rising sea levels, infrastructure and its maintenance will be a significant challenge. What we humans lack in intelligence we sometimes compensate for by cleverness. Perhaps we will be making floating cities anchored to the atlantan ruins of our submerged cities. Maybe our future will be a combination of Futurism fantasy and Disney picturesque. D
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infrastructure | flood plains by nichole weidmann and jason sowell
New Orleans after Katrina
wet land, neutral ground
New Orleans is inextricably linked to place; strategically positioned near the mouth of the Mississippi River as a center for economic and material exchange. The cityís urban form developed as an accretion of infrastructural systems and fluvial processes. The engineered responses to this dynamic environment inscribed a hydrologic network composed of walls (levees), conduits (canals), basins (wetlands), and controls (gates/pumps) onto a shifting terrain. The settlement practices initiated by the French adopt landscape measures as a means of transforming wet land into productive ground. In 2005 there were 26 named storms, including 14 hurricanes and 7 major hurricanes. On August 29th, Hurricane Katrina came to shore with winds of 230 km/h and a storm surge of over 10 meters, impacting more than 260 000 km2. As a response, the work examines the potential of infrastructure as a medium — if not method — for (re)building New Orleans. By examining the natural and cultural systems at the regional and city scale, the city’s flood control measures are transformed from singular-function elements to layered systems that serve as social spaces and cultural threads within a resilient, hydrologic network. Building on hydrologic typologies, the resulting scenario augments existing infrastructure through sectional change. The implementation of a sectional strategy as opposed to a traditional plan based approach sets up opportunities to increase the city’s water storage capacity, reclaim river access and elevate level of inhabitation. These strategies revamp typically banal infrastructure into layered systems that organize water events, social programs and increased density. In this manner, the city does not have to retreat to the highest topography; instead, the rethinking of infrastructure creates landscape hybrids that stitch the city, both culturally and naturally, into a unified urban matrix.
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levees ponds transportation plant life culture gulf climate
Countermeasures The channelisation of the Mississippi River cuts off annual floods to the coastal zone, and thereby eliminates the rejuvenation regionâ€™s wetlands and barrier islands. The increase in water salinity levels and the lack of a replacement soil, along with fragmentation from resource extraction (oil and natural gas), has contributed to the erosion of a vital ecosystem. The resulting degradation has significantly impacted the regionâ€™s initial defence against hurricanes. Rebuilding New Orleans requires flooding countermeasures conceived within an integrated hydrologic network. These components, in combination with an active management regime, are scalar in their operation, such that their deployment within the region and city results in a nested strategy of resilience. Designed as conceptual walls, conduits, basins, or controls, the intent is to use these components to direct, contain, or absorb water.
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Conduit -basin Although Jefferson Parish suffered little to no flood damage with Hurricane Katrina, it is still susceptible to future damage, as much of it exists at or below sea level. The scenario proposes to expand the existing canal system. Infrastructure easements and rights of way along the canal network are strategically appropriated in order to increase the canal’s capacity. This effectively slows down storm water and provides greater area for water storage. Housing previously adjacent to flood walls is relocated to higher ground constructed from fill generated by the canal’s expansion. The network then joins existing social programs, such as parade routes and recreational activities, to integrate cultural and natural systems. Wall - conduit The city’s higher topography and less flood prone areas lie directly adjacent to the river’s edge. Visual and physical access to the water is limited by levees and shipping activities. Given the Port of New Orleans’s national and local economic significance, measures for stacking new programs and higher density housing over the Port are conceived in order to maintain the economic viability while granting public access to the water’s edge. D
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Project Team: Jason Sowell and Nichole Wiedemann Rachel Brown, Clayton Fry, Frank Jacobus, Brett Koeing, Edward Kopelson, Jimmy Luu, Lindsey Moyer, Lynn Petermann, Agustina Rodriguez, Emily Scarfe, Andrea Shelley, Lee Ulmer, Kristine Weimer The University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture
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installation | islands of venice by charles stankievech
water bottles + glue + Venice
Island of Discarded Plastic (Leonia)
In 1969 near Vancouver, Robert Smithson attempted to create an earthwork that was never realized: Island of Broken Glass. In the middle of the Georgia Straight he intended to dump 100 tons of broken glass onto a small rock island called Miami Islet, completely covering its surface with the shattered material. Due to the swirl of protests from environmentalists and anti-Americans, the project was suspended by a governmental telegram at the last moment. Aside from drawings, letters, and plans, the only physical artifacts which remain are studies which Smithson called ‘maps’. One in a series of different materials, Hypothetical Continent-Map Of Broken Glass: Atlantis was a temporary small pile of broken glass arranged in a field in New Jersey. A version of Map of Broken Glass presently exists at the Dia: Beacon which presents the work in a white cube context. While Island of Broken Glass would have been Smithson’s first ‘permanent’ earthwork, the idea’s failure spurred him to make the famous Spiral Jetty the following year. A site-specific rendition of Island of Broken Glass remains to be made.
Robert Smithson Venice rubbish materials installations maps land art
When I was invited to Venice to make a site-specific work, my natural inclination was to revisit Smithson’s work. Several years earlier, while living in Vancouver I had created a series of works that intervened (at the request of the curator) with the Smithson exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In dialogue with Smithson’s ideas, the work engaged with site-specificity, ‘non-sites’, and the museum as a site. In practice, each of Smithson’s works in the exhibition Smithson in Vancouver: Fragment of a Greater Fragmentation (curated by Grant Arnold), was documented using various coordinate systems, treating each hanging as a specific location in an institutional structure. Each work’s temporary coordinates were gleaned from a GPS receiver, maps, architectural plans, or gallery measurements, and were printed on Post-It Notes placed beside the title labels. Photographic documentation of the intervention included a corner of the Smithson work, the title label and a Post-It Note with the prescribed coordinates. Situated somewhere between Smithson’s irony and Louise Lawler’s tongue-in-cheek documentation, the work attempted to continue, or perhaps reverse, the spiral of thought present in the exhibition and the legacy of Smithson’s work in Vancouver.
1 Charles Stankievech. Locating the work: documentation of Smithson in Vancouver: Fragment of a Greater Fragmentation, Vancouver Art Gallery. 2 Discarded plastic water bottles in Venice. 3 Islands of Venice 4 Island of Discarded Plastic (Leonia) 5 bottles
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was closed in the 1980’s. To distract from the real reasons why the incinerator was shut down, Vesta held an architectural competition to create a recreation centre for its employees in place of the incinerator. The winning design was never actualized and only in 2003 was the derelict incinerator destroyed. The island now remains empty with the exception of a sorting operation on the south side and a colony of rabbits.
Directly opposite is the famous island of Murano where factories pump out world famous glassware of all colours and qualities. If you were to continue past this island and along the same compass line farther northeast, you would find another island of glass that has recently been added to the constellation: Santa Cristina, a private island owned by the crystal tycoon Swarovski.
Along with Glue Pour which was actually performed in Vancouver, Island of Broken Glass held a central role in the configuration of the show and the catalogue. A request to work in Venice—a mythological city that is both sinking and the source for world renowned glass craftsmanship— immediately brought this piece to the surface of my mind. However, a simple execution of Smithson’s original plan appeared problematic for two reasons: first, the site had changed locations, and second, a direct recreation of the work is more of a museological issue (like the Dia reconstruction) than an artistic concern. Finally, if we were to seriously consider the aspect of site-specificity, not only would the geographical location need to be considered, so would the temporal concerns arising 30 years later. Each decade Venice is flooded a little bit more. While the acqua alta of 1966 brought this fact to international attention, the precariousness of Venice has always existed. Many of Venice’s islands have come and gone over its long history. The most recent addition to the Venetian Lagoon is an unnamed island at the western tip of Giudecca. This triangular-shaped island doesn’t appear on many maps, and is particularly absent from tourist maps of Venice. Appearing in the 1950s, it was created by the waste disposal organization Vesta as the location to collect and incinerate Venetian garbage. However, with the discovery that the building material, asbestos, was cancerous, the incinerator
In light of all this glass glistening in the Venetian Lagoon, Robert Smithson’s Island of Broken Glass would seem to be right at home. However while glass is one of Venice’s greatest exports, plastic water bottles might be its greatest import. One could joke that Venice is sinking due to all the bottled water shipped into the lagoon for tourist consumption. With a ratio of 12,000,000 visitors to a dwindling 60,000 inhabitants, the strongest presence in Venice is not Renaissance art but the tourists clicking photos where Madonna shot her Like a Virgin video, or the Biennale tourist searching for a temporary pavilion. For years Venetians have expressed concern about Venice’s fate as an Italian theme park (Muntadas’ exhibition at the 2005 Venice Biennale formalised this worry). But if the increase in tourism makes sense on a global scale, the increase in the bottled water market does not. Originally marketed as a luxury item, bottled water reached the status of the everyday while the world was in an economic recession. Leading this market trend, Italy consumes more bottled water per capita than any other country in the world. Extreme tourism in Venice exacerbates this to excessive proportions. Plastic water bottles sully every part of the entire city: floating in canals, flowing out of garbage bins, and flooding San Marco’s square. In one rotation around San Marco collecting discarded bottles, I easily filled more than two 50 litre bags. Surprisingly, Venice does not recycle. Of all Italo Calvino’s descriptions of Venice in Invisible Cities, Procopia and Leonia are the cities growing more and more visible. Made in the footprint of Smithson’s Map of Clear Broken Glass (Atlantis), Island of Discarded Plastic (Leonia) reflects its environment, literally and conceptually. A three metre island that floats in the lagoon between the island of San Servolo and the Giardini, the work is solely composed of glue and tourist water bottles collected from a selection of sites around Venice. The island will float with the tides for the duration of the 10th Biennale for Architecture, perhaps meeting the same fate as Atlantis—or reflecting the future of Venice. D Island of Discarded Plastic (Leonia) was made during the artLAB residency and exhibited in Fatti e Finzioni, curated by Irene Calderoni.
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proposal | tsunami memorial by adrian benoit colin herperger evan marroch zach pauls mike von tiesenhausen rob zacharias
coming to terms with the force of water
The tsunami that devastated South-East Asia on December 26, 2004, demands we come to terms with not only its own substantial aftermath, but with the nature of the traumatic event itself. CEZMAR studio entered a tsunami memorial competition in Norway, a country that lost many of its citizens to the tsunami, and contributed massively to Thailandâ€™s post-tsunami reconstruction. We have proposed twenty-five 5 metre tall, vertical stone slabs that radiate like shockwaves from a central point. Tragic events wound space, as well as well as history. As the (shock)wave raced across the Indian Ocean towards the African
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Norway tsunami memorials trauma perspective
coast, the moment of the tragic event was expanded and prolonged, allowing the worldâ€™s television viewers to experience the event in real time, becoming participants in its trauma. One result of the televised disaster is that it split the location of the event in two, creating two distinct spaces and experiences: that of the victim, located in sitespecific areas of the Asian coastline, and that of the viewer, whose location is dispersed around the globe. Our project replicates this split between the chaotic experience of the victim and the voyeuristic experience of the viewer by designating two distinct vantage points. The first at the epicentre of the
A truly significant event arrests the normal passage of time, cutting and dividing the continuum of history into before and after, while announcing itself as a central, eternalised present. We are either participants who suffer the full weight of its force, or observers hit by physical and psychic reverberations emitted by the shock of its arrival. Every significant event requires us to come to terms with its aftermath, sometimes in the form of a memorial space in which the full experience of the event can be explored, considered and mourned. In this memorial, incomprehensible chaos at the epicentre of a tragic even is, through distance, resolved into a continuous narrative that allows some sense to be made of the event.
monument, located on the shoreline â€” the liminal space between nature and humanity wherever water meets land. The waves of the Lysakerfjorden lapping at the slate slabs metonymically repeat the original tsunami in miniature. The slabs appear to shoot away from the epicentre, leaving an absence at the heart of the monument that signifies the unimaginable and uncontainable nature of the disaster. The second viewing point is located well away from the first; moving away on a pathway that runs along the Lysakerfjorden shore. This path is bordered by the same granite used in the twenty-five stone slates, and culminates in an echo point: a location of significant distance from the
epicentre to offer a perspective on the traumatic event in its entirety. The seeming chaos at the impact point has visually resolved itself as two large walls, stretching seamlessly across the horizon like the continuum of history broken only by the absent centre of the event itself. The scale of our monument is meant to shock the visitor into reconsideration of the explosive nature of trauma, while the intimacy of the surroundings imply that an experience need not be global in scale to be traumatic, and that perhaps in engaging with traumas of epic proportions we can learn to recognise and consider the traumas of the everyday. D
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project | inuvik family centre by wayne guy
northern technologies and a love of hot climates find a home in the far far north
Swimming in the arctic
Drifts of snow able to swallow houses fill the windswept landscape above the Arctic Circle. It’s hard to believe this region is actually a desert receiving less than 10 inches of precipitation a year. Water is the prerequisite for human settlement, both physical and psychological. This has inspired Canada’s only year-round aquatic cente in the Arctic. The Inuvik Family Centre is a reprieve from the long sunless winters when temperatures hover around -30°C for months on end. It offers light, colour and warmth; a tropical respite — an oasis where weary northerners can recharge their batteries. Like an oasis in the sandy desert, this one stands as a surreal counterpoint to its surroundings. It establishes a great sense of place and strengthens the bonds of community between the people who use it. It is the community leaders who want first class amenities, with state of the art technology, for everyone who makes Inuvik home. foundation
The facility sits on 5metres of ice and peat (permafrost). If this were to melt, the building would settle to its eaves. To prevent the permafrost from melting, a lattice of piping (a thermosyphon) filled with compressed carbon dioxide was laid underneath the building. It intercepts heat from the 30°C water in the swimming pool, which is then radiated to the atmosphere. exterior walls and roof
The walls and roof were designed to perform well with a 100°C difference between the outside and inside temperatures; the same difference between ice and steam. A structural insulated panel (metal skins sandwiching 150mm of polyurethane) was used for exterior walls and the roof. Developed in Texas for blast freezers (keeping food at -40°C in 50°C Texas sun), SIPs are attached to the outside of the structure. Insulation between panels is continuous and joints are double-sealed to avoid cold spots on the interior skin where warm moist air could condense. ventilation
This is the first pool in Canada to use a displacement ventilation system, originally developed in Sweden for welding shops.
swimming pools thermosyphons permafrost oases heat reclamation arctic architecture
Displacement ventilation has large air diffusers on the pool deck level where low velocity air, slightly cooler than the ambient air, pours across the surface of the water. Swimmers, whose noses are inches above the waterline, breathe better quality air because chloramines, the gaseous products of chlorination that linger at the water’s surface, are removed. Stale air does not get a chance to recirculate because it is exhausted at the opposite side of the pool. The slower moving air associated with this system reduces the rate of evaporation on wet skin thereby reducing the body’s heat loss, keeping bathers warmer. It also means less energy is consumed by mechanical systems to heat and move the air. amenities
This is not a rectangular lane pool. The centre takes its cue from the natural landscape to create an interior aquatic world. Grotto, beach, river and lagoon shape the pools so that bathers have a variety of experiences. The circular tot’s pool, with ergonomically designed seating for little ones, has jets of air and water built into the floor so it feels like a pool beneath a waterfall. A circular stream of fast moving water is where children can tube and seniors can walk against the current for exercise. This stream enters the main recreation pool beneath a spray arch marking the change from turbid to calm water. Facing the main pool, steam room and sauna are located in beach hut cabanas. All these features, plus a 60 metre water slide, animate water play and recreation. the great indoors
Our new ability to create an oasis in the most barren of settings can be seen as terraforming, where ideal life-supporting conditions can now be placed anywhere on the globe. Interior environments can present landscapes we once associated only with the outdoors. Although the genesis of this kind of architecture was predicated on keeping the elements out — building a benevolent fortress containing a different kind of natural world, technology now permits the dissolution of the traditional boundaries of inside and out. Our architectonic lexicon has been liberated so that we may now create worlds previously impossible and unthinkable. D Project Name: The Inuvik Family Centre, Inuvik,NT. Project Cost: $8.0M Client: Town of Inuvik, Peter Clarkson, Mayor Architect: Guy Architects Ltd, Yellowknife, NT R. Wayne Guy, NWTAA/PP, MOAQ, FRAIC Principal, Constantina Tsetsos, B. Arch, Associate Celeste Whalen B. Arch , Cheslaw Hawryk B. Arch Specialist: Vic Davies Architect, Victoria BC Vic Davies MAIBC , Brian Inness Structural: Reid Jones Christoffersen. Victoria BC Ron Bremmer, P. Eng Mechanical: Thorn Engineering, Yellowknife, NT Ian Dinnan, P. Eng Jon Howe, P. Eng Keen Engineering, Victoria, BC Rob Walter Electrical: AD Williams Engineering, Yellowknife, NT Robin Ferguson, P. Eng Contractor: Ninety North Construction & Development Ltd.
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On site: The exotic charm of this swimming pool centre doesn’t strike me as being very sustainable without massive energy expenditure. Wayne Guy: When one speaks of energy consumption, one has to look at the bigger picture. Our food travels 2000km before hitting our plates. Similarly, the energy expended to fly a northern family and their luggage to the tropics for a winter reprieve is enormous. We use local gas, piped from the Beaufort delta 60km away (no refining required) in the gas turbines that were in the facility before the pool was added. The turbines provide heat and the electricity for the pool. This is extremely efficient given that the new pool addition didn’t require additional heating equipment.
On site: Why is excess heat blown into the atmosphere through the thermosyphons, instead of being collected and recycled. Wayne Guy: We looked at reclaiming the heat from the thermal siphons during design development, but as the pool was sitting on up to 600mm of insulation, we found we were dealing with very low-grade heat (ground temperatures of -3°C to +2°C) — not enough to make it worthwhile to collect at source. We do recover heat from the air exhaust system which takes the lion’s share of energy out of the air before discharging it. On site: In the south we are bending over backwards to make every building sustainable, to be thinking of energy
security. What is the trade-off necessary in a beleagured community such as Inuvik between fantasy oasis and technological expenditure? Wayne Guy: The technology makes the exotic possible within feasible means. The winters are very long and Inuvik is at the end of a very long road. Having year-round activities is very important for the residents of Inuvik, especially the youth who tend to get into trouble if they are not engaged in more healthy activities. This facility provides an amenity to support and reinforce community-building so that those who came to Inuvik will stay and not be transients going elsewhere to satisfy lifestyle needs. D
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landscape | 550 queens quay west, toronto by real eguchi
the urban beach
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This is a garden for a developer client who wanted to ensure that the landscape helped people appreciate that they lived in Harbourfront, Toronto, down by Lake Ontario. Residents are professionals who live downtown, often engaged in a dialogue about culture, well-being and the city. The landscape project mediates between Lake Ontario and the condominium, the edge of the city and the lake, connecting people to nature while living in Canada’s largest urban centre. Although entirely and artificially located on the roof of the garage, when we thought about water, we initially thought about flowing lines, rocks and fence pickets that appear to have been subjected to the forces of water. We thought about plants blowing in the strong wind down by the lake. To work this in landscape terms often comes down to placement details: for example, the project includes drifts of large plant materials that actually flow in front of smaller material. At the largest scale, a public walkway runs north to south through the property, a city requirement to allow access through private developments to the lake. The walkway with an inukshuk that points to the lake, giving direction and orientation. Two asymmetrical wave-like walls enclose the walkway; the paving moves up and down in counterpoint: indeterminate, yet organised by a regular pattern of trees and light poles on either side of the walk. The walkway stops at a large circle edged by rough stones with smooth surfaces to sit on. In the circle are two Canada geese made of thin metal strips, oversized garden ornaments for vines to grow into. The overpopulation of geese has been an issue in this area — one of many conflicts we have with nature. These geese stand alert, about 10 feet tall, and peer toward the lake as if watching out for the residents. The circular garden sits in the middle of a large terrace: the paving is painterly, angled in various directions. Waves of colour, with a sparing use of expensive blue pigment, flow in patterns, so that the garden appears to be lapping against the building.
What is the value of the little strip of landscape that usually lies sad and flat in front of apartment and condo buildings? Eco-psychology tells us that this can be a space of decompression -- a mental and physical restorative, bringing us back to a bio-diversity long missing from the city. One such project is at 550 Queen’s Quay West, where the two components of well-being and aesthetic pleasure combine to form a landscape that does more than please, it wants to heal the rupture between nature and urban life. 1 Goose frames under construction. 2 550 Queen’s Quay in construction: a compressed landscape that must mediate between the housing units, a busy road, a tramline and the waterfront of Lake Ontario. Images of water carry that mediation, connecting directly to the lake.
sculpture condominiums landscape themes Harbourfront urban nature
3 Fence between public and private gardens. 4 Column in the colonade between garden and street. 5 Overall view of the casual nature of this landscape, diurnally and seasonally changing. 6 A daily engagement with natural processes increases the likelihood of achieving a sustainable future. This as a healing relationship, both for the environment and people: landscape is a wonderful medium to explore the notion of sustainability since the essential materials themselves are living, growing, dying, and regenerating.
Projects on this quay must include colonnades at the front of their buildings. Here, each stone column is made of regular blocks, similar to but much bigger than childrenâ€™s blocks. In different seasons, the colonnade reveals changing aspects of nature as snow, rain and vines span the space between columns. The transition from street to building is through delicate drifts of ornamental grasses and a rich array of plants that are constantly renewing themselves in everchanging patterns of light and sound as the sun and wind guide them through their life-cycles. A small commercial building faces the street and backs onto the gardens of the ground floor condominiums. The wavy back wall of this pavilion reflects both the landscape and the curvilinear outer edge of the condo balconies. This part of the garden is fenced with pickets that appear erratic, wind-blown, yet follow a pattern, a cost-effective construction. The goal for this project was to provide meaningful, real, and abstract experiences of nature on a regular basis within the immediate condominium grounds. This landscape seems complex in its many details, yet collectively it makes a simple statement about the nature that is around and within all of us, reminding us that some natural processes are always beyond our control. D Completion: 2002 Client: Cenpac Developments Landscape Architect: Eguchi Associates Landscape Architects Project Team: Real Eguchi (Principal-in-Charge), Barbara Flanagan-Eguchi (Design Principal), Juhan Marten, Martin Wade, Eddie Wu, Tad Ukleja, David Ruben Piqtoukun, William Lishman Architects: Page and Steele Architects, Perkins Eastman Black Architects Lighting Consultant: Lightstudio Landscape Contractor: Trinity Contracting and Landscaping Photography: bREAL inc. art + design
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the fifth façade — beautiful affordable eco-roofs
Owen Rose, Urban Ecology Centre
building technology up on the roof by owen rose
The human body is largely composed of water and its intimate connection to the blue planet does not stop with the flush of a toilet. Often a source of grief: too much or not enough, water is both a visible and invisible concern for cities. Not only do we have to find a source, clean it up for potable use and then distribute it, but we also have to dispose of it. Black or grey, waste water treatment is a costly and difficult task. Think of cities such as Halifax and Victoria that dump their untreated wastewater directly into the ocean. Although Montréal has a large sewage treatment plant at the east end of the island, the city still averages about 22 discharges of untreated sewage directly into the Saint Lawrence River each year. When it rains too much the combined storm and sewer system cannot process all of the water from our houses, hospitals, facto-
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ries, rooftops, and polluted streets. Thus the problem is passed on to the fishes, whales, and other cities downstream. Now that we have started to face the growing threat of environmental problems such as urban heat islands, air, water and noise pollution as well changing weather patterns, ecological building criteria such as the LEED1 (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system have encouraged the construction and design of more ecologically sustainable buildings. In the six LEED categories, water management takes on several forms: one is a vegetated roof. Instead of installing deserts of tar and gravel on our roofs, more and more institutions, businesses and homeowners are opting to grow fields, gardens and vegetable patches on them. Aside from their obvious beauty, green
roof gardens structure eco-technology water retention Montréal
Whether we call them vegetated roofs, roof gardens or ecological roofs, there are three main categories of green roofs. The best known is the rooftop terrace with flower boxes. Poetically referred to as hanging gardens, they apply equally to roof and balcony installations.2 The next category is intensive green roofs with a layer of earth (growing substrate anywhere from 30cm to 2m thick) and plants, even trees, over most of their surface. Without knowing it, you have probably already seen them over car parks and projects such as the Robson Square Centre in Vancouver and the central plaza of Place Ville-Marie in Montréal. The structure of these roofs has to be strong enough to take the weight of a waterlogged snowcovered garden that can be tremendously heavy. Over the past number of years, new lighter green roof technologies have contributed to the third category: extensive, ecological or ecoroofs. Much lighter than the intensive roof, the substrate ranges from as little as 5 to 15cm in depth. The advent of extensive roofs is now why we are able to promote green roofs for most types of construction. Their lightness makes them much more economically viable given their reduced structural requirements.
roofs offer natural cooling, a greater lifespan and better rain water management. They retain about 50% of fallen rain (returning water to the atmosphere bypassing the city’s sewer system). The other 50% will still find its way to the drain, but the return of this water is delayed, which helps city infrastructure manage water levels during downpours and intense rainfall.
1 The garden in the city 2 Beginning construction. 3 The growing roof
Claire Frost, Urban Ecology Centre
In the case of new construction, extensive green roofs are much more economical and usually cost two to three times the amount of normal roof standard roofing systems; however, these green roofs should also last twice as long. With the natural renewal of a city’s building stock, the widespread installation of green roofs with new construction would transform a city’s roofscape over time. In 2006, the City of Toronto adopted public policy to encourage green roofs through urban planning and financial subsidies.4 More and more building professionals and contractors are learning about green roof construction. To facilitate the learning process, the Urban Ecology Centre published two green roof reports (in French) in 2005 and 2006. The first report, Toitures vertes à la montréalaise, was a 100-page introduction to green roofs for the southern Québec climate with a survey of green roof experiences in Québec and around the world. The second report, Projet-pilote de toit vert, documents the demonstration project from its initial planning to ongoing plant maintenance. It includes many photos and illustrates the project’s costs, materials, earth and plant choices, the role of each team member. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has also published reports relating to green roofs.
What about Leaks? Modern green roof experience started in Germany more than forty years ago, and the waterproof aspect of such roofs is no longer a major concern. In North America, quality waterproofing membranes are on the market, capable of withstanding the constant humid environment of green roofs. Also, earth cover protects the membranes from large day to night temperature fluctuations and the sun’s ultraviolet rays, both of which break down conventional roofs over their 20-year lifespan, whereas green roofs should last about twice as long. The real challenge is in creating the lightest technology possible so that plants are still able to survive summer droughts and, more importantly, cold Canadian winters.
Green Roofs on New or Existing Buildings? In the deluge of new interest in green roofs, some owners of existing flat-roofed structures have looked at retrofitting an extensive green roof on their buildings; however, not all existing flat roofs are able to support the weight of even the lightest green roof assemblies. To study residential green roof retrofit possibilities, the Montréal Urban Ecology Centre built a demonstration project on top of an existing 100-year-old Montréal duplex in 2005.3 The project included the complete reconstruction of the roof structure followed by the installation of a 15 cm thick extensive roof. Half of the project cost was related to the structural retrofit. Although successful, the project was expensive.
Team Effort The basic construction team for a green roof includes the client, architect, structural engineer, green roof supplier, general contractor and roofing subcontractor. Depending on the extent of the project, a landscape architect or a horticulturalist could also be part of the team. There are more and more green roof suppliers in Canada. Technically, the construction of a green roof is not that difficult; however, due to the additional weight, a structural engineer should always be consulted. Ultimately the success of a project is determined by the correct choice of plants and substrate thickness given the roof ’s particular microclimate and the client’s desired aesthetic. The true test of a green roof is whether the plants are able to survive three consecutive winters; so, when a new green roof technology appears, it is always a good idea to ask if it has at least three years of proven success and/or a good warranty.
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Green Roof Composition The green roof system can be installed once the roof structure has been properly designed and the appropriate roofing membranes have been applied. The system varies from one supplier to another, but usually contains a number of items such as an anti-root membrane, water drainage panels, a geotextile and specially formulated green roof light earth substrate. The weight of the earth holds the system in place by gravity. Now the gardening begins! The most appropriate categories of plants for extensive green roofs are wild grasses, wild meadow flowers and sedums (waxy plants). The ecological goal is to favour indigenous plants, but the final choice depends on the chosen green roof technology and the roof ’s planned use.
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A number of institutional extensive projects in Montréal have used clover for its low-cost and tenacious character.5 Each green roof supplier is capable of furnishing information about the appropriate choice of plants and their aesthetic impacts. The installation of an irrigation system also depends on the type of roof and choice of plants. The more ecologically-oriented the roof, the less likely that it will need an irrigation system. In cities, irrigation of green roofs and gardens uses municipal water. Rain and/or grey water recuperation and indigenous landscaping strategies can help reduce summertime demand for city water resources.
It’s Alive! Unlike a normal roof that most of us tend to forget, a green roof does require regular maintenance. For an extensive ecological roof, the maintenance is minimised to about six times a year from spring through to autumn. This requires inspection of the roof drains to make sure that they are clear of debris, trimming the plants in spring and periodic weeding. If the roof does not have a built-in irrigation system, even the hardiest of ecological roofs may need additional irrigation during intense summer heat waves. Much of the roof ’s maintenance will depend on how the roof is used, the plants that have been chosen and the owner’s gardening habits. Residential green roofs can also be used for recreational gardening. Loft owners in Montréal have also invoked the idea of an urban cottage where the roof may include an outdoor bedroom, shower, summer kitchen and patio surrounded by a roof-top meadow and views of the city. For the building owner, green roofs increase building value and create a personal urban oasis. For the larger community, green roofs reduce the load on a city’s water infrastructure and help to moderate urban temperatures. Clearly, green roofs not only benefit individuals, but they also benefit our neighbourhoods and our cities. The fifth façade has never shown so much potential. D 1
LEED® Canada is an adaptation of the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System (LEED®), tailored specifically for Canadian climates, construction practices and regulations. (Source: Canada Green Building Council www.cagbc.org) 2
For more information about urban hanging gardens see: www.rooftopgardens.org 3
More photos of the demonstration project: www.ecosensual.net/drm/portfolio/projetpilote1.html 4
City of Toronto Green Roof initiative: www.toronto. ca/greenroofs/index.htm
Montréal Urban Ecology Centre: www.urbanecology. net CMHC: www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca
infrastructure | multicultural opportunities in reclaimed landscapes by yvonne lam
new life for an old lifeline: re-imagining the Don
‘Landscapes are culture before they are nature; constructs of the imagination projected onto wood and water and rock.’ In his book Landscape and Memory, Simon Schama contends that every landscape is psychologically framed by cultural constructs
Displacement In the age of globalism and mass human migration, Canada has emerged as a society built on tolerance and multiple values. It has more than 200 ethnic groups and the world’s second highest proportion of population born outside the country. In Toronto, 44 per cent of the population is foreign-born. Displaced from their birthplace and disconnected from ancestral ties, people from all backgrounds must re-identify themselves in Canada. An emerging generation of Canadians have compound identities that defy physical and national boundaries. In the last decade, cross-cultural marriages have increased by almost 40 per cent in Toronto, significantly furthering the cultural complexity of the present and future Canadian population. Likewise, inter-faith marriages are on the rise, as are same-sex marriages. Like its displaced citizens, Toronto’s physical topography is a historical register of both natural and artificially displaced earth, rock and water. Grooves and ridges carved by retreating ice sheets millions of years ago created a web of streambeds and river valleys that take water to Lake Ontario. Specifically in Toronto, 7000 years of drifted sand and rock have made a thin peninsula that encloses a natural harbour protecting the city. Within this harbour, sediment from the Don River emptied into marshlands at Ashbridge’s Bay creating an ecosystem that supported a large bird and waterfowl population.
1 The present Don environment: industry, expressways, railways — a lost landscape 2 The mouth of the Don River, Toronto 3 The potential of the Don River to be an extended, public, sustainable urban lifeline.
industrial landscapes urban rivers derelict land reclamation public space
Since European settlement two centuries ago, dramatic alterations have been made to the mouth of the Don River. The lower Don River has been transformed from a natural serpentine stream into a hard-edged concrete channel. The concrete banks of the late nineteenth century Don Improvement Plan further isolated the river and its valley from the urban fabric. The addition of the Belt Line Railway (now part of the Canadian National Railways) in the early 1900s, along with the construction of the elevated Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway and the Bayview Avenue Extension in the 1950 and 60s have created barriers all around the Lower Don. The construction of the port lands completely eradicated Ashbridge’s Bay marshes, and in the process, more than 20 million cubic metres of material from the harbour floor was dredged and relocated. Today, the Don River terminates in a rightangled bend at Keating Channel. Polluted from sewage and surface run-off, the murky water at the mouth of the Don languishes amidst a web of infrastructure.
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4 Waterfront: soft edge 5 Street edge 6 Hard edge
A Moment of Crisis A river ends with its union and transformation into a lake, sea or ocean, a multifaceted symbol for the people and the city. In this respect, the Don is not an anomaly: river mythology has a rich past. The circulation of rivers was once seen to parallel the body’s bloodstream, mythologising rivers such as the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates as sacred symbols of fertility and providence that gave rise to the great civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Both ancient and modern cities are built along watercourses and their mouths. Rivers frequently appear as literary devices, and their unremitting flow is a commonly used metaphor for the irreversible passage of time. Throughout Toronto’s history, the Don River has remained physically and symbolically important. Its physical transformations have directly reflected various civic perceptions as the city evolved. With the decline of industrial activity in the 1990s, the Don’s increasingly vacant landscape, as well as the neglected port lands, suggests little of its once iconographic significance.
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At the same time as the Don’s iconographic demise, our urban spaces which supposedly reflect who we are, can increasingly be found to be wanting when they try to accommodate such poignant moments as weddings and funerals. At this critical juncture, the parallel narratives of the city and the people can converge. If the river is indeed a lifeline, then the mouth of the Don ought to serve as a moment of release and rebirth.
Plans and Visions During the last 10 years, there has been continual interest in revitalizing the now polluted Lower Don River and the port lands. In 1999 the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Task Force proposed the Fung Plan, which used the programmatic requirements for Toronto’s 2008 Olympic bid as the driving force behind a systematic renewal of the waterfront. Building on strategies from earlier initiatives such as the Task Force to Bring Back the Don and Waterfront Regeneration Trust, the plan outlined a linked public park system along the waterfront and a restored river mouth. A number of new neighbourhoods were planned, including a media and high-technology centre, and live-work communities that would reinhabit the Athletes’ Village and other Olympic sports venues. The plan lost much of its urgency when Toronto failed to win the Olympic bid. Nevertheless, out of the defunct Olympic bid sprang the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation (TWRC), which formed in 2001. The TWRC continues to pursue and develop elements from previous proposals. In recent years, numerous precinct plans have emerged for many of the under-developed lands along Toronto’s waterfront. Following the
2006 international competition for the Central Waterfront won by West 8 + du Toit Allsopp Hillier, the TWRC has recently launched a similar design competition for the Lower Don Lands, which includes the immediate area at the Don River’s mouth. The site presents a complex challenge for designers, with its environmental and physical constraints, but also a unique opportunity. After years of neglect, the mouth of the Don is finally taking centre stage. D 1
Jennifer Welsh, At Home in the World: Canada’s Global Vision for the 21st Century, 189. 2
Statistics Canada. Canada’s Ethnocultural Portrait: The Changing Mosaic, 2001 Census, 12. 3
“The concept of ethnicity is fluid and is probably the most complex concept measured in the census. Respondents’ understanding or views about ethnicity, awareness of their family background, number of generations in Canada, and the length of time since immigration can affect the reporting of ethnicity from one census to another. Increasing intermarriage among various groups has led to an increase in the reporting of multiple origins, which has added to the complexity of the ethnic data.” Ibid., 16. 5
Tuan, Yi-Fu. Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1974. pp85-91.
7 Tower 8 Mound
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cultural heritage and the use of water in landscape design
urban order | sanya new town, china by eddie wu
new town in an old landscape HOK
new town planning water control metaphor landscape identity
In 2003 the HOK Planning Group proposed the Sanya Bay New Town master plan for a private developer in Hainan province in China. The site, approximately 9km long by 0.5km deep, runs parallel to a sandy beach on the Pacific Ocean, but as it sits behind a layer of existing hotel resorts and residential buildings, it is without direct access to the beach. HOK has proposed a waterway system as the heart of the new community and which will link it to adjacent neighbourhoods. The waterway is fed by ground water, collecting surface runoff in a series of detention ponds with reed beds to filter the water before recharging it into the waterway. It also accommodates storm flooding and overflow from an adjacent river, channelling excess water to the sea through a marina. After approval of the plan by the local planning department, the second stage looked at landscape and engineering design, including a series of bridges over the waterway. The challenge was to create an attractive environment for the entire development while establishing distinctive and appropriate amenities for adjacent neighbourhoods. The
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idea was to establish a â€˜water storyâ€™ of various conditions based on the natural and cultural use of water in the region. Hainan Province, and in particular Sanya City, is a beautiful area of white sandy beaches and extensive palm groves set against rolling hill terrain and rivers. The province contains rice paddies and wetlands, with fish farming taking place along its edges. It is well known for sun, water and natural beauty. These elements provided the design inspiration for the water story. A total of six water conditions were developed in Sanya Bay: Palm Beach, Wetlands, Ponds (Fish), Plantation, Water Terraces (Rice Paddies), and Foothills. Each water condition has its own distinctive physical characteristics, extended into many design levels: physical layout, visual character, spatial expression, amenity program, features and elements, material choices, colour and texture, planting design and species selection, site furniture, and waterscape.
Palm Beach This first zone sits next to the marina community, where salt and fresh water meet. Palm grove and sand beach are represented by a sloped ground plane of earth- and sand-toned pavement. Layers of shrubs follow a wavy paving pattern. Water sprays across the pavement like water washing up on the beach. Seating and kiosks are abstract boulders. Wetlands This zone is characterises a villa community around a future golf course, using the natural landscape, including wildlife habitats, water plants, multi-branching groups of mangroves and other trees, and floating boardwalks, observation decks and shelters. Ponds (Fish) This zone is found in areas of increased density: a concentration of schools and the community recreation centre. Fish pond grids and open water have clean edges and strong geometric lines. A childrenâ€™s water play area adds to this active water zone, evocative of a pond of jumping fish.
Plantation This is a narrow, linear space next to a multi-family neighbourhood. Fruit and flowering trees, beds of shrubs with contrasting colour and texture, and a series of outdoor rooms line up in grids, with water flowing in linear channels like the irrigation channels of an orchard. Water Terraces (Rice Paddies) For the commercial office, retail, cultural and entertainment zone, water terraces respond to the land uses.Water cascades from the cinema drop-off to a mid section retail promenade and outdoor amphitheatre, then flows into a reflecting pool at the base of a museum. Another stream starts in front of a hotel and convention centre, then courses down to the waterâ€™s edge across grand steps and floating trees. Foothills In this area walkup apartments abut a natural river system. Rolling landforms and sculptured earth mounds have grassy water edges. Pathways meander with random paving patterns representing the washed stone along a stream course. Spring-like bubblers in the main waterway function as a mechanical aeration system.
This landscape concept was approved by the Sanya City government in spring 2006. The mayor felt it had captured and reinforced the natural beauty of the Hainan Province and is in line with the strategic development direction of the tourism industry and the city as a whole. D
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1 Canadian Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) 2 Hamilton steel mills across the harbour from CCIW 3 Land|Scope’s hybrid landscape beside the Skyway bridge. 4 Lit interactions in the ecosystems below.
We are altering the chemistry and biology of our world: human endeavours are not just limited to the local, but now operate at the scale of the globe itself. The earth, spatially and temporally, is immense. We fear that our alteration of lifesupporting processes will be irreversible and uncontrollable. However, when combatting environmental changes, we often react against natural transformations such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Our fear and uncertainty wants a kind of permanence. We try to prevent ‘natural processes’ from changing and evolving. We must reconcile our own personal spatial interactions with the new global connectivity that exists between technology, the material products of our cultures, and the natural environment. Global connectivity was a twentieth century concept — Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller each saw a coming hybridisation of technology and nature in new spheres of global interconnections. Teilhard De Chardin believed that our capacity to generate complex systems and technologies of interaction mimics the evolutionary and biological development of consciousness. After the geosphere, and the biosphere, comes the nöosphere — a sphere of thought that now surrounds the earth. McLuhan saw this connectivity as driven by global media to the point that systems of sound and video will be so inter-linked as to form our environment entirely. Fuller demonstrated technological and biological interconnectivity in a geodesic dome, a geoscope, the interior of which was lined with aerial images simultaneously
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plug us in, connect us to the earth and we might start to get it
we are the environment
hybrid environments making connections by jonah humphrey
displaying flows of economic and natural resources: a control centre for the earth’s cultural and ecological processes. Link the world wide web to contemporary theories of global ecology and we experience the earth as an enormous entity of organic, fluid and artificial systems interwoven in a network of physical and virtual space. Why then, with such powers of transformation do we have a fundamental fear of altering the environment? We need a better understanding of the inherent forms of feedback that already exist between the world and us. As we adapt to drastic environmental change, we can measure the perceptions and preconceptions we hold of ourselves compared to the environment’s own character, state and nature. Land|Scope, a theoretical project, addresses some of these things. It defines landscape as a combined realm of ecology and culture borrowing ideas from Fuller’s Geoscope to find new applications for responsive technologies — systems embedded in structures that allow them to sense, think and act within the environment. Whereas Fuller’s proposal was an enclosed, spatially separated global system of control, Land|Scope is an integrated landscape of interaction, offering a place for interpretation and reconciliation with the environment. This project is sited at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW), home of the National Water Research Institute (NWRI), which researches and tests natural and man-made water-based systems. CCIW sits on Hamil-
ton Harbour beside the Skyway Bridge that connects Burlington to Hamilton — a site between suburban development, industrial lands, remediated wetlands and the open waters of Lake Ontario; a site quite literally at the centre of many of Canada’s leading environmental concerns, including the state, the natural environment, industrial production and pollution, and fresh water reserves. The NWRI houses Canada’s Global Environmental Monitoring System for freshwater (GEMS/ WATER), part of the United Nations Environment Programme. It is precisely this monitoring that Land| Scope aims to use as a basis for interpretation and response. The current monitoring done at the NWRI, as well as monitoring of new systems in a hybrid natural/industrial landscape surrounding the site, will be brought into the architectural component of the project — a monitoring centre where our interactions with the local ecology can be publicly accessed, showing the connectivity between the wetlands surrounding the facility, Hamilton Harbour and the biosphere. Responsive architectures — whole environments of connection — have the potential to free us from the rigid ideas that we currently use to define our environment. Within new hybrid environments, we might better understand phenomena present in nature and technology alike, reacting and adapting accordingly as both the living creatures and the cultural beings we are. D I would like to extend my thanks to Michael Forbes, Science Liason Officer for Environment Canada, and the NWRI, for allowing me to tour the facilities, and providing me with the information to make my research and design work possible.
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Tuscany, Andalusia, Napa Valley North: where’s the Okanagan gone?
landscape | okanagan vernacular by robert mackenzie
views from an altered landscape
vernacular building desert environments rapacious development sensitive landscapes
Pick a dozen buildings from the Okanagan and photograph them. Shake up the photos in a bag, cast them out on a table and feast your eyes at the built environment. What do you have? Okanagan Oddscape! Youthful, vulnerable and in transition.
An array of house-types can be found in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, many straight from the pages of American home magazines. If you live in the Okanagan, your house style may only be limited by money and how radical you dare be in the eyes of your neighbours. Owning a house of uniform design and colour, on a uniform 1 street, with other people of uniform lifestyle may not bother you, in fact it may help to focus your vision, or illusion, of a contented life. Until you see something different out of the corner of your eye.
After a 100 years of new settlement, the Okanagan remains environmentally, economically, socially and physically vulnerable. Valley architecture is a valley confused. For the past 20 years, the valley has been overrun by a hodgepodge of over-development. I have fond memories of mid-twentieth century Kelowna,Vernon and Penticton — truly eclectic towns. Houses with deep wooden verandahs on orchard hills, similar to Australian settler houses, related to land and life in a simple and honest way. The porch was an extension of the inside space. The hot sun was held back by extended roofs and window awnings; rain water was collected in cisterns; they were built with whatever material was locally available and easy to handle. These were original settler structures which responded well to the dry Okanagan environment. The ultimate Okanagan vernacular from the last century may well be the fruit stand. Lean-to’s, A-frames, post and beams, sheds; logical, functional, yet freely formed responses to their place. Then you see something else different from the corner of your other eye. Baby boomers on one hand and twenty-year-olds on the other are moving to the Valley. The pressure is on in a big way — they want to live in a really nice place with a unique physical character, a good economy, good environmental quality and a variety of things to do. Lifestyle is Big, hence demands placed on the development of Okanagan cities, the rural and ecologically sensitive space between them, and of course, the lake. Stone and timber wineries with warmth and character are starting to form a cohesive statement despite the Okanagan being called Napa North. More contemporary forms are emerging that respect local constraints on material choices, the climate and energy use. Thinking green is slowly entering into mainstream consciousness as people recognise the fragility of maintaining a healthy lifestyle over a long period of time. Valley ecology is now
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seen to be rare. Maintaining and controlling the quality of our earth, air, use of fire and water is essential for the future. By being simultaneously retrospective, critical and forward thinking, people are re-assessing the Okanagan built environment. With varied efforts and modest objectives, there is a resurgence of interest in revitalisation: back-tracking then jumping forward again. Slowing down fast-paced growth and rediscovering what is local about this valley is a collective planning goal. Osoyoos, for example, has come full circle and now encourages desert design influences rather than pseudoSpanish, which it tried earlier. A true minimalist, mud wall character evolved in this community when first settled — a Canadian desert style, an environmental architecture. These early examples persist, filtering into our vision as we still live and build in Canada’s only desert. At the other end of the Valley, Vernon’s main street struggles to be reborn as people rediscover a vital history of urban infrastructure and culture. Although shopping centres scramble for face-lifts, downtown streets are returning to the pedestrian, leaving cars to struggle through the new ex-urban networks. More sensitive design considerations are becoming the norm as the towns borrow good modelling from the past. It has always been a pleasure driving from Vernon through lake country, however I am fearful when I think of what damage we can inflict upon this fragile land. Although the blue-green Kalamalka Lake and shore remain a visual pleasure, Kelowna development has pushed to the limits of neighbouring Winfield. At the same time, a new definition of life, colour, landscape, ecology, transit and culture reflecting and respecting Kelowna’s historical roots characterises new planning objectives. Once more, people want to breath, walk, talk, shop and be entertained away from the highway strip, in a local downtown. Youthful and vulnerable, the Okanagan is in major transition. We are turning to what we want to see not just from the corner of our eyes, but all around us. D
1 Typical orchard house for a hot climate, ca. 1910 2 Osoyoos house for a desert climate, ca. 1920 3 Spiller’s fruit stand in Penticton, ca. 1960: functional vernacular 4 Various climate tempering devices against the façade of Monk Bluff House, 1996, Robert Mackenzie, architect 5 Lake Okanagan from above Naramata 6 Sehgal Residence, Anarchist Mountain, Osoyoos, 2004, Robert Mackenzie, architect 7 Sehgal Residence, attached theatre and observatory
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pools, pond life and performance
performance | wade, urbanvessel and the waves on site in conversation with christie pearson
Night Swim the waves 2006
The ebullient Christie Pearson, performance and installation artist, was involved with three water-based projects in Toronto last year, working with three different groups. wade has an interest in art in public spaces, and aims to open a dialogue between the arts, the community and the urban landscape. urbanvessel creates performance works and multi- and inter-disciplinary projects rooted in the sounds and spaces of our citiesâ€™ overlooked corners. the waves was part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, a signature event of the City of Torontoâ€™s Live With Culture campaign. Trained as an architect, inspired by public traditions, she collaborates with choreographers, composers, visual and performing artists on events which amplify our relation to natural and constructed environments. She addresses architecture, the city and the rituals of daily life, and her projects present space as noisy, kinetic sites full of public agency, voices and interruptions. Her engagement with Toronto as both a public network and a civic body is both extensive and inspiring. We should have a wade weekend in every city and town in Canada.
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wading pools swimming poole music mixes installation performance Toronto
Blue Gwen MacGregor WADE 2004
WADE wade, curated by Sandra Rechico and Christie Pearson in conjunction with YYZ Artistsâ€™ Outlet, started in 2004 and now happens every other year. For one weekend, Torontoâ€™s 100 wading pools are turned over to artists. As they build projects in, with and around each pool, an innate sense of meaning and importance of place develops for each site. Parallels between the city, the pool, and the public, raise awareness of pools as public domain. Wading pools relate to both a neighbourhood scale and a city-wide network, and combine recreative potential, the childhood experience of wading, and the cultural implications of the park. The projects empower communities by asking them to engage in a manner often a-typical to a wading pool site. People wade through pools filled with rose petals or clear plastic bags of water, stamp wet wool into felt; in one pool, sound compositions are generated by waves created by the waders. As the original intent of each work becomes modified through public participation, the audience is added as author. wade considers art as a social process in which we can all participate, contributing to the life of the park and the city as a cultural construct. Pools turn into places of wildlife, community and congregation. Torontoâ€™s identity as a collection of communities is emphasized and its diversity celebrated.
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SLIP urbanvessel 2006
SLIP consists of writer and actor Anna Chatterton, choreographer Yvonne Ng, composer Juliet Palmer and Christie Pearson. In 2006 they presented SLIP, a site-specific interdisciplinary performance for the Harrison Baths, returning the baths to an open, passionate public life. The act of cleansing is both sensual and spiritual; a bath house is a place we become naked, removing our sweat and public personas. In Toronto, these rituals have almost been forgotten. What would our city look like if we reimagined the bath house as shared public space? urbanvessel
The Harrison Baths and Swimming Pool are housed in a 1960s building: an urban oasis providing free showers, swimming, washrooms and laundry facilities. In many cultures, the public bath is the focus of community conversation and exchange. SLIP states, ‘the act of cleansing is both sensual and spiritual; a bath house is a place we become naked, removing our sweat and public personas. In Toronto, these rituals have been forgotten. What would our city look like if we reimagined the bath house as shared public space?’ imagined and then performed a collective history for the Harrison Baths, travelling the labyrinth of the Harrison Baths complex from the tiled lobby, through the gargantuan men’s locker room, to the majestic pool, and finally, through the series of intimate rooms making up the women’s space. With jazz singer and improviser Christine Duncan, opera singer Vilma Vitols, Japanese folk singer Aki Takahashi, and drummer Jean Martin with Louis Laberge-Côté and Susanne Chui who added their bodies and voices to the mix, dance was fused to theatre, music and installation. The music was visceral and vocal, combining body slaps with handheld percussion and the sounds of the space itself. A grimy, razzmatazz Hollywood chorus line, a sparse and intimate Japanese folk song, and opera echoed off the tiles. Sound, mist, water and light transformed the everyday into a dreamlike space. urbanvessel
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Night Swim the waves 2006
NIGHT SWIM September 2006: a free event that crossed sound and light installation, a music festival and a swimming pool party, was held from sunset till sunrise at the Trinity Bellwoods Community Centre swimming pool. the waves transformed a much loved downtown public swimming pool into a shimmering, reflective dream-space with kinetic sculpture by Rob Cruickshank. Wire contributor, Marcus Boon invited sound artists, musicians and DJs to produce site specific works and sets in a sound environment designed by sound designer Darren Copeland, which included underwater microphones and speakers. Visitors swam, watched, joined in. Sound is important to all these projects. Night Swim included colossal drone-scapes by Montreal’s Tim Hecker; loops by Beijing-based creators of the Buddha Machine FM3; guitar and bass trance music from Michigan’s Windy and Carl; turntable compositions by Marina Rosenfeld and experimental tribal rhythms by Raz Mesinai from New York. From Toronto, electronic composer and improvisor Sarah Peebles joined Sandro Perri/Polmo Polpo’s indie funk, sexy nocturnal grooves with Luis Jacob, baile funk, grime and dancehall from Geoff Snack aka DJ Showcase Showdown, lo-fi electro-acoustics by Andrew Wedman, and ecstatic sustained tones by Orixasound. These performance/installations hybridise public space, sensually extending it to many cultures and communities. D
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jordan + haladyn
review | jamelie hassan by miriam jordan + julian haladyn
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a garden of light questions the process of peace
watering the seeds of doubt
L B Pearson peace studies gardens performance
The Lester B. Pearson Garden for Peace and Understanding was designed by the landscape architect Paul Ehnes in the grounds of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. It commemorates the life of Pearson, who graduated from Victoria University in 1919 and served as Chancellor from 1952-1959. As the fourteenth Prime Minister of Canada and the 1957 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Pearson was a fierce advocate for peace who, as the inscription on the railing overlooking the garden reads, ‘established Canada’s reputation in the 20th Century as one of the world’s great peacekeeping nations and helped define Canada’s modern foreign policy’. A small waterfall flows from beneath this railing and cascades into a calm pool of water surrounded by a lush perennial garden that includes bugleweed, anemones, coneflowers, globe thistle and heuchera1. Flat stones in the pool make a shallow, gradated water garden, punctuated by larger rocks similar to the space in a Japanese garden. The calm and peaceful atmosphere of this tribute to Pearson comes from Paul Ehnes’ use of ‘water in all of its states to illustrate the process of education which is essential for peace’2. The winner of the 2001 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Jamelie Hassan’s practice as a Lebanese-Canadian artist, writer and curator often confronts issues of colonialism, patriarchy, militarism, censorship, sexuality and cultural identity. She explores personal and public histories often ignored in public discourse, such as the salient fact that peace is not a daily reality for all too many people throughout the world. She chose The Lester B Pearson Garden as the context for her installation Garden of Light, a site-specific artwork that was part of Nuit Blanche, an all-night art event that took place the night of September 30, 2006. This event featured more than 130 contemporary art projects that interacted with other sites throughout Toronto, including Maize Barbacoa, a corn roast in Yorkville Park by Hassan’s partner Ron Benner. For Garden of Light, Hassan added night-blooming lilies, plastic flowers that let off a soft glimmer of light when placed in the water and, also in the pool, a series of 10 letter-shaped ceramic pieces that spell the word ‘eventually’. Through these elements, Hassan invited spectators to reconsider the concepts of peace and understanding specifically where Ehnes used water as a symbol for the process of peace. The most interactive element of Hassan’s installation was the glowing plastic flowers which could be seen floating throughout the space of the pool adding an intimate illumination to the garden. The flowers were transformed into an element of delight. When people realized that the flowers stopped glowing when removed from the water, they started to play with these flowers, picking them up and throwing them back into the water as though making wishes. This interactivity between the spectators and Garden of Light turned the calm, passive
and meditative space of the Lester B. Pearson Garden for Peace and Understanding into an arena of communal activity. By relating this participatory project to the conceptual construction of the garden itself (water as symbolic of peace and understanding), Hassan invited the spectators to become participants, actively working towards peace through the communality of play. The coming together of spectators from all walks of life during this one-night encounter illustrates the necessity for people to work together to forge real and enduring peace throughout the world. This is heightened by the ceramic letters scattered throughout the pool. That these white letters might combine to form the word ‘eventually’ can easily be overlooked — a discreet reminder that peace has not been achieved in spite of our intentions, a reminder that we cannot sit passively by and hope that peace will be achieved ‘eventually’. How easily this was overlooked can be seen in many responses published after the event, in which Garden of Light is discussed almost entirely in terms of the beauty of the glowing flowers. But anyone familiar with Hassan’s work knows that her presentation of beauty is always accompanied by political commentary; in the case of this installation the commentary is very subtle and must be pieced together using the original intentions of the garden itself — a meditation on peace and understanding. The beauty of Garden of Light is that the peacefulness of the installation depends on a fragile moment in time when visitors come together and forget their differences in the play of the lights and water. The addition of the scattered letters adds to this participatory experience, in which the activity of piecing the word together required visitors to walk around the garden and, as was often the case, to talk to on another, communicating this little secret. ‘Since that night’, Ashley Gallaugher writes in her article on Nuit Blanche3, ‘when I look at the garden on my way home from class, it seems like something vital is missing. It was great seeing people interact with the garden’. What is missing is the community that Hassan brought together for one evening with Garden of Light. The water in this garden symbolises the clarity, enlightenment and understanding that comes with peace. By situating her installation in this water Hassan planted a seed of doubt about whether we have truly reached this state of understanding. The fragmented letters drifted in the water, implying that if the currents come together in the right way peace will follow — eventually. D 1
For a list of perennial plants in the garden, see http://www.vicu.utoronto.ca/Alumni/ The _Lester_B__Pearson_Garden_for_Peace_and_Understanding/Perennial_Plant_List. htm 2
Victoria University website on The Lester B. Pearson Garden for Peace and Understanding, http://www.vicu.utoronto.ca/Alumni/The_Lester_B__Pearson_Garden _for _Peace_and_Understanding.htm 3
Gallaugher, Ashley. “Nuit Blanche kept us up all night, in a good way.” The Strand 15 October 2006: 11.
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photo-documentation ad hoc structures by michael leeb
On two occasions during 2006 (July and September) I visited Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia with the intention of creating a body of work, both photographs and drawings, of the beaches. Although I have been visiting this area since my childhood in the late 1960â€™s, I had only seen the hand-built driftwood structures on Wickininish Beach and Long Beach as forts and places to play. Now I see that many of the structures have similarities to indigenous architecture, not only of the west coast but also further afield. Driftwood is Western red cedar, yellow cedar, yew, fir and spruce trees that have either been eroded from the shoreline or are the result of logging, swept to sea and deposited back on the beach. The accumulation of driftwood makes a seawall that halts erosion at the shoreline and provides a massive amount of material for beachcombers, tourists, park visitors and local people to build things with. In a typical structure, a roof beam with logs propped against it forms a lean-to with a wall on the seaward side. Some sheds are left open on the side facing east towards the woods, while in others the roof extends around both sides with an opening either on the north or south end. Some have the appearance of longhouses: they are rectilinear, have a post and beam frame, and a roof that is only slightly pitched with a centre peak, or at other times essentially flat. When dry, seaweed such as bull kelp becomes a resilient rope-like material, ideal for lashing posts and beams together. Other seaweeds, such as fir needle, seem to be used more decoratively. The diversity of these driftwood structures comes not only from their builders, but from each driftwood log, uniquely fashioned by nature through the forces of wind, frost, sun, waves, rain and the individuality of the original tree. When I returned to Long Beach after a heavy rain storm on September 17, 2006, all of the driftwood and the structures south of Incinerator Rock and north towards the First Nation village of Esowista had disappeared, swept to sea or silted over with small dunes. However, driftwood and seaweed characterise these west coast beaches, providing an endless supply of material for a next generation of imaginative builders.
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surplus accumulation is the mother of invention
Pacific Rim National Park Vancouver Island folk architecture driftwood storms seaweed
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the gorges of Ithaca, New York 42°47’ N 76°46’ W
the culverts of West Vancouver 49°5’ N 123°25’ W Arthur Allen
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The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
Attention: 2007 Graduates Graduates of professional degree programs in architecture now receive a free membership to the RAIC for the first year after graduation along with an introductory copy of On Site Review. Receive a Certificate of Membership and be entitled to attach a designation after your name. The MRAIC (Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada) and FRAIC (Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada) designations
are recognized symbols of professionalism.
Join the tradition... All architectural graduates, Intern Architects or Interns, as well as faculty members of a University School of Architecture can apply for a Certificate of Membership. Each may use the MRAIC designation. Membership application forms are available at
$9 $10 $50 E6 ÂŁ4
on site #17
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Water: too much of it, not enough of it, we squander it, we hoard it. Every settlement in the world is dependent on rivers, oceans, rainfall...
Published on Apr 2, 2007
Water: too much of it, not enough of it, we squander it, we hoard it. Every settlement in the world is dependent on rivers, oceans, rainfall...