art architecture urbanism landscape culture
$14 display until october 2012
New application period in the interdisciplinary and international Master Programme Resource Efficiency in Architecture and Planning (REAP) at HafenCity Universität in Hamburg has started. For the fourth time already, interested students of diverse disciplines have the possibility to apply for the ambitious Master Programme REAP. The focus of the REAP course is the claim to assimilate Resource Efficiency in sustainable design of our built environment in a methodical and application oriented way– from buildings to urban metropolitain regions. REAP aspires a multidimensional and holistic approach. Next to the reflection on different physical city structures and, the analysis of diverse involved policy makers will be considered. The main aspects of the REAP Master Programme are in detail: u A holistic approach to Resource Efficiency (in relation to the fields of water, energy, material and noise) - from the scale of a single building to urban infrastructure and up to metropolitain regions u The communication of knowledge about resource efficient technol gies and strategies in consideration of users demand u The acquirement of institutional and legal as well as methodical skills u The reflection on different geografical and cultural conditions u Project- and practice oriented work on national and international level The REAP Master Course targets applicants of diverse disciplines (e.g. architecture, urban planning, geography, civil engineering, law, social-, economicand environmental sciences) and regions of the world. Applicants should have a strong interest in forward looking technologies and social development in cities. They should be guided by the wish to get involved with sustainable urban structures. The Master Course also offers possibilities of advanced training on university level to people, that are already working in the fields of resource efficient planning and building. The application period for non-German applicants runs over the whole year. They have to apply until July 15th for the following winter semester starting in October each year. The next start of the Master Course is in October 2012. More information: https://www.hcu-hamburg. de/master/reap/ About HafenCity Universität Hamburg (HCU) The HafenCity Universität was founded in 2006 as University of Built Environment and Metropoltain Development. It is the only University in Europe, that is dedicated especially to research and teaching in the field of built environment and that combines all departments that are necessary to understand and to improve this environment: architecture, urban planning, civil engineering and geomatic.
On Site review 27
The Choice of Narrative In ‘The Illusion of Choice’ (25: Identity), Michael Panacci writes about the trend to market Toronto condominiums by borrowing iconography from other, foreign cities. He argues that much of this is a result of the economic situation surrounding the construction of new condominiums, where financing has to be secured prior to construction and all that can be sold is the immaterial idea of a place. While this is an accurate argument, I wonder if there is not more underlying this phenomenon. The fantastic conjuring used to sell real estate could latch onto any number of motifs, so it is curious that there is such a consistent use of other cities in the marketing of new condominiums in Toronto. Is this, perhaps, a particularly Canadian phenomenon? As a former British colony and current neighbour to the United States, there is a long history of imagining Canadian cities from a self-deprecating position, where ‘real life’ happens elsewhere, in the place where perceptions of value are formed. Think, for example, of how differently success in Canada is generally understood compared to international success. Of course, this is a futile point of view: a city imagined as this non-place can never be anything greater than an inadequate, if not fraudulent, version of the places it is looking to for validity. To see the value of our own cities, we have to understand them from the inside out, as specific real places. Panacci goes on to draw connections between the rise of the individual and the one-bedroom condominium unit, arguing that this form of housing “foster[s] an active separation from the public realm of the streets.” He makes an argument for different forms of dwelling, including collective spaces and new types of collective ownership, to counteract this trend and reconnect inhabitants to the places they live. I think this is indeed an important call for change but I would like to suggest that in addition to new “original living options,” we also need to encourage new myths about our cities, new ways of understanding and valuing them for what they are, rather than what they are not. Lisa Hirmer Guelph The making of an identity My earliest indentification with a place was in a village in rural Wiltshire, rudely displaced when I was moved in 1948 to Portsmouth, which had been a target for the Germans in WW2. My new neighbourhood was a bombed-out wasteland, my school was half in ruins and I crossed several bomb-sites to get to it. Homeless people lived under tarpaulins, sometimes sitting around an open fire as I passed by. My memory is of a desolate wasteland, ruins and a lot of misery. When I turned up at the school of Architecture, it was in one of the newest buildings in the city, completely surrounded by bomb craters and derelict town houses. It was like this in 1961 and for quite some years after that. Did this affect my identity? My surroundings had been seedy and run down for years, and had a significant impact on my outlook. I found the manicured residential districts of the USA and Canada too much: I gravitated to the wrong side of the tracks, to working class areas where the scale is smaller and, to me, more reassuring. Whilst working as an architect in the far north, I looked at iconic and emblematic forms as design solutions, discovering as others before me had, that the igloo really is the most amazingly sensible and environmentally fitting design form. Now I’m interested in even older things; very old in fact, ancient monuments and stone circles. There is a timelessness quite discernable in such places. I lose track of time hiking up Silbury Hill, an enormous artificial mound near Avebury in Wiltshire, whose engineering principles are still obscure. It was built 4500 years ago. There are places like this all over the world. It is the balance of things: quintessential purpose, beingness, timelessness, and connectedness that I sense, having gone full-circle, from a child at Stonehenge, our cottage on a ley line which joins all the ancient power spots, (and where the Christians later built churches all called St. Michael), along a straight line to St. Michael’s mount in Cornwall, to the Canadian arctic, and now to the Sami landscapes of Norway. Michael Barton Oslo
Glimpses of Landscapes from a Car Window Ivan Hernandez-Quintela December 2011
Trying to make something out of the once-a-week trips to San Felipe del Progreso, a rural town two hours from Mexico City, where we’ve been supervising the construction of a
On Hunting In Stephanie White’s article ‘Azulejos’ (24: Migration), White brought me back to Lisbon. Not so much because of what she said, but how she said it – the way she peeled back the layers of the city, like an onion. In Azulejos, White is a hunter. People get hunters all mixed up, and think they are looking for what is rare or elusive – the thing that might give them the slip, and scurry away down some furtive alley if it were not for the hunter’s state of constant awareness. On the contrary, for the hunter, there is too much world, and all of it is clamouring for attention. Nothing rare or elusive here. White sees her quarry everywhere. If she were to make an appearance in Carlo Ginzburg’s great book, Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, he would no doubt call her a detective; a job that, one would have to agree, is merely a modern incarnation of the hunter. Her language reveals her true role when she refers to “the sheaf of stencil evidence.” White is looking for evidence, clues; the broken branches on the forest-floor that lead the way to the beast.
the car. To draw was nothing new, I am in the habit of drawing daily, usually in a coffee shop where I can take my time to do my contemplative urban
On Site review 27
rural community school for a period of four months, I decided to take a sketchbook and pen to draw what I saw from the passenger’s window during all that time spent in
(And here I am, hunting for evidence of the hunter). What is White looking for? On the surface of it, she searches for stencilled tiles, though they are relatively numerous in Lisbon. Does she then search for something in those tiles that others can’t see, like the professional antique hunters who throng the Parisian flea markets early on a Saturday, their noses diving down amid the bric-à-brac. Perhaps she searches for a slip of a moment in the 18th century, between the hand-drawn (which occupies the attention of lesser hunters) and the silk-screened and lithographed massproduced products of the 20th. Or else she searches for other, less visible histories: traces of the Dutch East India Company, and of the Portuguese empire, resounding out from the tiles, into contemporary Lisbon. White doesn’t fool me. All this talk of tiles is designed to put me off the scent, and deceive those who hunt the hunters. I know the real story. White is looking for time, hidden in the walls. We are all a bit dislocated, we hunters; always pressing forwards, and trying to discern, on street corners, in tiles, and in malls, a sense that is always just escaping us. * Lisbon for me exists between two faces: that of the immigrant, and that of the old man. The old man has a secret, and he remains rigid in it. Perhaps he will die there. Can you see it? It can be seen in the perfectly ironed shirt, still smelling freshly of starch, in his trousers, which finish slightly too high up the ankle for modern tastes. The space between him and where he lives: a small inch of tired flesh held together by black socks. It can be seen in the erect posture, the face that seems to bend impossibly backwards, away from you, and away from the street. Most of all, it can be seen in the eyes: the fierce pride that seems to live on despite everything. * Lisbon is a world of people waiting: kids against walls, Angolans on curbs, and old men sitting in the squares, carving out tiny circles of space. What are all these people waiting for? Hunters wait. For those waiting, just as for the hunter, no shadow is without significance. Everything may be a harbinger of the prey that we chase: every broken twig, torn leaf, street sign, newspaper, and every stranger holds within it the promise that, just maybe, our time has arrived. When we wait, we attend. Because we do so, we are not fully present; our sense of self is projected forwards to that happy imagined time in which we are united with the object that we await. We live in the future conditional. This waiting, which might seem to deprive the world of all colour, and render it monochrome, with hints of red happiness at the corners, is a condition of us being in the world at all. The kids wait to ride themselves of their youth; the fur on the lip and the wise cracks constitute part of the sheaf of evidence (and how else could you luxuriate in your youth other than by already trying to be rid of it?). The Angolans wait for an opportunity that will enable them to transform this strange life lived in abeyance – not quite at home, but not fully in Portugal. The old men, who remember
On Site review 27
the Estado Novo, and a stiffer Lisbon than the world of today, remind me of some lines in Beckett. I am waiting. For what are you waiting? For it to all blow over. For what to all blow over? Life, I am waiting for life to blow over. Like White, the people of Lisbon are waiting in space: hunting for objects that, if they can be recognised, will signal the arrival of the right time. * I keep seeing it – that sense of loss, of uncertainty, that encounters me everywhere. In Lisbon, it crept up on me when I least expected it. In mute arcades, on side streets, down passages that suggest nothing but bare walls and struggling businesses, worlds congregate. Just as sleep, in conditions of oppression, can be a liberation, so concealed spaces in cities can act as a dream, in which one is liberated from a disjunctive present into an impossible past. In these empty spaces, neglected by the Portuguese, time is trapped in a bottle, and left to ferment. I found myself wandering down one of these side streets, one day in Lisbon, and entering a mall. As I climb up the stairs, there is floor after floor of food shops: plantains, ripe and brown, compete for space with fiery-red Scotch Bonnet chillies and dried fish. There are no warehouses for these shopkeepers, and the produce spills out of brown cardboard boxes, just as the cardboard boxes in turn poke out of doorways, onto the course-ways, turning the mall floors into a long extended market, in which the boundaries between the shops are no longer clear. I stopped to speak to one of the shopkeepers; I no longer recall her name. She said she was building a house in Angola, a threestorey dream house. Every cent she made in Portugal went back to Angola, to her family, and into her house. Life in Portugal is a suspended life, which consists simply of building a life elsewhere. At least here, she said, in this mall, I am reminded of home. The mall is a dreamed world, a world that is a function of another, more concrete dream. In the mall, Portugal and Angola enter into uneasy co-existence, with the Angolan shopkeeper depending on the former colonial master for her future independence. She is waiting to live again. She spoke dismissively of the bar downstairs. Every cent must go home (and every cent spent in Portugal, is a cent wasted). The bar is in the basement, and you can hear the shouts and the music as you enter the mall. It is to here that everything flows. The lost, the forgotten, and those that want to forget, congregate here. I drink with two Liberians, who wait on the curb like the Angolans, but not for possibility; they wait for the appointed hour, and they walk to the bar. The stronger you are, the longer it takes you to get there; the bigger the foundations of the dream-home, back home, the longer it takes for you to succumb to its memory. Only it is not home. This bar resembles no bar in Liberia or Angola. It is a bar in Lisbon. And it is not. It is a bar made by a community that is in Lisbon, but it is only uncertainly a part of it. It is there. It is not from there. A lost space, grown ripe and drunk on fermented time, unmoving. * So the old men look, in their small circles in the parks of Lisbon, for a space that will close the gap between the world they know and the world Lisbon is becoming; and so the Angolans, in their shops, on street curbs, search for the concrete possibilities that will mean they are no longer living a life suspended, and can rejoin a now-liveable life in Angola. So White looks, in tiles, for a sense of time that will ground her in the city, and so I look, amongst them all, for a sense of what it is I am hunting for. We people of Lisbon are a type of us all. We keep looking for the answer to time in space, and the answer to space, in time. Joshua Craze Cairo Collective Monuments I was both intrigued and puzzled by Liam Brown’s piece, ‘Ashes: The Urban Dispersal of Earthly Remains’ (26:DIRT). I think of death as extra-ordinarily personal – funerary architecture represents the individuality of the deceased and accommodates the privacy of those left to mourn. Death’s monuments are often built from stone, connoting the solemn if illusory sentiment that the living will not forget the dead. Brown flipped this notion on its head by designing a collective grave where the individual is marked by the slats of a wooden fence, an object that connotes exclusion and will quickly age. It is a public and perhaps harshly real way of commemorating an individual’s life in the urban landscape. Corey Schnobrich Berkeley
portraits. Still, nothing had prepared me to the flickering images quickly passing through the frame of the car window and how much I had to adapt
my way of drawing in order to capture what seemed like confrontational snapshots between the land, abandoned structures, field machines, and weather conditions.
most out of each stroke since the .005 point I usually used kept bending on itself due to the sudden strokes. What I would focus on would shift from week
On Site review 27
A couple of strokes was all I could get into paper before the landscape began to change right in front of my eyes. I even had to shift to a thicker point pen to get the
Pigeons Rusty overhangs and pigeon droppings are so common in cities worldwide that ‘The Pigeons of St. Hubert’ (26:DIRT) can be read as a universal melancholy of urbanity. Speaking of pigeon droppings, the Inca trail guide at Machu Picchu, pointed his walking pole at Mount Huayna Picchu and proclaimed, ‘llama dung – it is llama dung that Machu Picchu was built upon!’ Paleoecologist Alex Chepstow-Lusty’s research near Cuzco revealed that llama dung as fertiliser was the decisive factor that led farmers in the Andes to boost maize production and extend their cornfield terraces up into the poor soil of the mountain slopes. Small pebbles of llama dung, easily collected, transported and strewn on farming terraces, supported human communities for over a thousand years. UNESCO describes Machu Picchu as ‘one of the world’s greatest examples of a productive man-land relationship in history.’ Mediaeval pigeons too were welcomed for both flesh and droppings. Not as famous as Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist dovecote at Praca dos Tres Poderes in Brasilia, 300 surviving pigeon towers near Isfahan reveal our intimate past with pigeons and doves – once 3000 pigeon towers were scattered across the fields. 10-22m across and roughly 18m high, each circular tower held 5000 to 7000 pigeons and produced enough fertiliser to support 18,000 fruit trees. Sophisticated in design with interior arches, barrelvaulted ceilings, supporting buttresses, checkerboard arrangement of pigeonholes and inclined interior walls, they were efficient and minimal guano factories. The emergence of chemical fertilisers distanced us from pigeon manure and eventually aroused our antipathy to the birds that once contributed extensively to our own existence. Pigeon towers remind me of the columbarium, a building with multiple rows of niches to house cinerary urns. In Latin, columbarium was used originally to describe compartmental pigeon houses [columb: dove]. ‘Ashes: The Urban Dispersal of Earthly Remains’ (26:DIRT) refers to human ashes as dust made sacred, and illustrates, poetically, ash dispersal in the mystic subterranean rivers of Toronto. To many cultures, ash dispersal is not common although in densest cities, ash dispersal in water or gardens has gained some popularity under strong advocacy from local authorities, as a measure to relieve the pressure of land shortage. In Hong Kong where I spent my childhood years, known for skyrocketing real-estate values, crowded living conditions and a shortage of land, traditional burials have become a luxury reserved only for the wealthy. From 1975 to 2009, cremation rate in Hong Kong shot up from 35% to 89%. But today, from what I’ve seen in the local news, the city is also running out of columbarium niches for cremated ashes. Many cinerary urns are temporarily stored in funeral homes, waiting up to a few years for new niches in public columbaria to become available. In some cases, families may choose to send bodies or cinerary urns abroad, particularly to North American cities, to bury. At the same time, construction plans for new columbaria are often met by fierce resistance from local communities, fearing a house of dead nearby may devastate the fengshui and land value of the neighbourhood. The government of Hong Kong predicts that by 2016, up to half of the dead in that year will be ‘homeless’. The government is looking elsewhere for inspirations to resolve the issue. In Tokyo there is the adaptive reuse of old commercial buildings into high-rise columbariums which look like normal buildings. A futuristic columbarium in Yokohama managed by Nichiryoku Co. is a 24-hour facility: an underground vault, multi-purpose rooms and ten viewing areas decorated with various floral backdrops of cherry blossoms, roses, etc. Each cinerary urn stored in the common vault is marked with a unique barcode. To view the urn, each family is given a RFID (radio-frequency identification) card similar to a touchless payment card used for public transit – Hong Kong’s Octopus card and London’s Oyster). When a visitor comes and pads the card in the viewing area, the urn is identified digitally, extracted from the vault and delivered onto a viewing table through a mechanical conveying system. The visitor pays respect at the viewing table with incense, flowers and other offerings. It seems clean, convenient and space efficient – an interesting design prototype for a novel urban ritual of visiting the dead. At first this all seemed absurd. Yet, in a fast-changing world, the odd may become the norm, the norm may fall into disuse, and even objects of disgust can transform into something precious. A return of pigeon manure, once we come up with a systematic method to collect, process and distribute this organic fertiliser, could support urban farms and rooftop gardens in the future. A day will come for the re-evaluation of filthy pigeons. Calvin Chiu Toronto
Only Entropy A recurring theme in the 26:DIRT is a repeated quote from Mary Douglas: ‘dirt is matter out of place’. Nearly every article suggested dirt is either raw material or is waste and coupled this with some moral commentary. I too was intrigued by Mary Douglas’s quote and wondered if this invocation of matter and place offers two doors – one towards the sensate world of human artifacts and the other towards the abstract world of physics and entropy. It is this latter world that attracted me to so many of these articles. Dirt is the entropic by-product of human or natural processes. For example the ash drift across the prairies from Mount Mazama outlined by Gerald Forseth or the nickel deposit left by a meteorite impact in Sudbury described by Kenneth Hayes are generated by cataclysmic natural events. However, the ensuing dirt or nickel represents a lower energy state. In any physical system there is a tendency to achieve an even distribution of energy, which means a homogenous neutral end-state. Dirt typifies this end state. Dirt in all these processes is a homogenous mix of salt, mineral and crystal. Perhaps our negative reaction to dirt is a reaction against dirt’s inherent disorder. Only when we can sort and separate do we value dirt as it re-enters our ordered universe. The act of separating dirt into its constituent and useful parts requires energy; the need to believe in an ordered universe is re-enforced when we see energy used to convert dirt into something useful. However this belief in order is defied by the presence of dirt and the absence of energy. Dirt is matter out of place. And matter out of place offends our moral sense of order by reminding us that in architecture as with all of human endeavour, the natural entropic end-state is dirt. Paul Whelan Toronto
On Site review 27
Fitting In Tanya Southcott’s essay ‘Last Housing Standing’ (26:DIRT), while specific to Vancouver, offers insight into a common Canadian urban condition too often ignored. Unlike the tabula rasa renewal programs, policies and actions of the 1960s and 1970s, today’s urban regeneration takes a more messy approach to urban development that can severely disrupt the integrity of traditional housing stock while paradoxically spurring urban regeneration. In a pattern found from Vancouver to Halifax – and perhaps most evident in Toronto – the viability of much of our historic housing stock within contemporary regeneration plans seems to be in question – or, more precisely, not questioned at all. With ever-increasing develop pressures in all of the major city centres across the country, can the traditional single-family house survive? Should it survive? As Southcott eloquently points out, at odds with both time and space they struggle to find a place of permanence in a continually evolving urban landscape. Can single-family homes be more than the residue that results from piecemeal, ad-hoc, contemporary urban renewal and redevelopment projects? The future of single houses in areas of intense urban regeneration seems to be a question of agency. As a home, it sits in a hostile environment. As an element of urbanity, surely there is much to take from it – a form to possibly influence redevelopment, but does it have the capacity to adapt to contemporary functional, spatial and technological demands? Southcott suggests the need for a ‘retention strategy’, yet exactly what would be retained by such a strategy is still unclear to me. In this regard, a retention strategy seems premature. Perhaps some urban ‘soul searching’ is first required to discover just where these fragments may fit, if at all, in the evolving space and program demands in our cities. As an urban condition of partial and incomplete destruction, regeneration and densification of city blocks, the juxtaposition of single-family house and residential tower seems difficult to maintain without an overarching and complete spatial strategy that would ensure a long-term, integrative and mutually beneficial coexistence. Matthew Neville Halifax
to week. At times it was the presence of man-made structures and the way they seemed protrude from the horizon that caught my attention. Other times
it was the subtle topographical variation of the land that became noticeable thanks to the repetition of elements such as wooden posts.
Dirt pile landscapes In ‘Dirt Piles’ (26:DIRT), Lisa Hirmer refers to these mounds as a by-product of the construction process, posing as a sort of monument to consumer demands. What strikes me about her photo series is the meticulous manner in which most of the piles are cropped out of context. The earthen textures are presented as crisp cutouts flanked by off-white skies. By extending the frames downward, I’d fully expect each fragment to cap a mountainside. The fact that they’re impermanent ‘leftovers’ was an unexpected surprise. Even so, it inspired me to rethink my own surroundings: what if such piles popped up alongside new developments with increased permanency and accessibility? The idea isn’t completely far-fetched. Berlin’s third-highest point, Teufelsberg, is made up of about one-third of the city’s destroyed homes following the second World War, a fact which continues to startle tourists as they stumble upon bits of brick while hiking. Both Teufelsberg and Hirmer’s selective methods of cropping are misleading. But it is this very confusion and ambiguity that sparks curiosity by imagining new ‘dirt pile landscapes’. ‘Soil Horizon’ by Lateral Office also presents dirt in an unfamiliar mode by exhibiting it as a series of vertical extractions, each with subtly varying soil profiles. Since specific patterns can be pinpointed to different regions throughout Quebec, the exhibit reveals a cartography usually buried beneath our footsteps. If we eliminate each specimen’s thoroughly annotated podium, we’re left with dirt piles on a parking lot—the occupation can be likened to the typical wintertime scenario of grey snow mounds plowed into parking spaces. But with sharp-edged earthen chunks, Lateral Office has reinvented the dirt pile. The question remains, however, what sort of ‘dirt pile landscape’ will it inspire? Shannon Werle Dresden / Tokyo
wired fence. Under particular weather conditions, it was the encounter of mountains with dark clouds all that seemed to be out there. Getting to
On Site review 27
Not too often, traffic or a small accident would allow me to stare longer to one particular view, where I could notice clothes being hung to dry in an almost unnoticeable
Unspeakability The images accompanying John Szot’s article (26:DIRT) about a street art meets new construction experiment are beautiful, strong and colourful. The space is washed in light, with sparse furnishings and art on the walls. Apart from the plywood furniture and the somewhat messy exposed conduits, this looks to be a fixed-up urban loft, a condo most likely unavailable to any of the artists whose paintings adorn the bare concrete walls. The art on the walls, of course, is graffiti – some of it a bit more gritty than you would expect but overall very suitable for an expensive urban loft which could easily be featured in an interior design magazine. It is not clear from the article whether this experiment actually took place. Further online research revealed the images were actually renderings – part of a very well done computer-generated and animated tour of a ‘vandalized’ building which you can watch here: www.johnszot.com/archandtheunspeakable. Most irritating however is how the author talks about the interior design aspect of letting new construction be ‘vandalized’ by street artists, but does not take into account the social or cultural impact such a marriage would have. One can easily imagine the slogans on flyers and full page advertisements in local newspapers and magazines promoting this new loft space as ‘authentic’, ‘gritty’ and ‘real urban’. How real and authentic can ‘vandalism’ be when you agree to let it to happen in order to commercialize it as a design feature? It is hard to imagine that this experiment could take place without any control from the developer. Even apart from potential safety concerns that come with allowing access to a construction site (e.g. missing windows and guard rails), the developer would most certainly want to have some say in the editing process as to who is allowed on site and what can be sprayed on the walls. Would the developer allow vulgar images or hate phrases? Would he allow homeless people to live in the space and use a future bedroom to relieve themselves or light fires? Offering a home for people and then displacing them once sufficient ‘authentic’ art has been produced would be a questionable practice. The article brings up some interesting questions: How far can we go with art? How long can we call something art? When is it dirt? When is it wallpaper? Szot’s project is an interesting challenge to the creation of heterogeneous, original new development. However I would have wished for a more critical approach. Looking at this experiment’s benefit to interior design is not enough. Lisa Dietrich Toronto
Just stay put and keep quiet In hindsight, the permanent state of the camps had always been impermanence; they were momentary and ephemeral, much like the dust that drove people westwards in the first place. — Joseph Heathcott. ‘Dustbowl Designs’ (26:DIRT) 1. From Roman military encampments to contemporary refugee settlements in South Sudan, all camps share the same passion for order. Notice I don’t mention the inhabitants; it’s the camps that want the clean lines and right angles that push us – strangers huddled together – into community. I remember going to camp as a child. We would set up our tent (well, my parents would set it up), glance with suspicion at our neighbours (the same brand of tent, yes, but where were they from?), and wonder at a world that brings together hundreds of strangers, assembled in a field, in identical tents. My suspicion soon faded amidst the camp activities – making banners, sing-alongs around the campfire, treasure hunts in the forest – and the intense forms of belonging that inevitably accompany the founding of a new community, no matter how temporary. I felt the same sentiment that infuses every bad film about American summer camp: time at camp was a suspension of the everyday world, a magic moment to be held up, bright against a dreary existence. The stronger and more coercive the rules and activities governing the camp, the closer I felt to the people around me. Community here was not based on a shared sense of life – lived histories entangled together – but on a contingent coming together in a field, a contingency that was occluded by the intensity of our need to belong together, and mark this strange field as our own. People held up by banners. If anyone expressed doubt about the magical time we were sharing (rain, cold, tents, mud), they would only have to remember that we were in it together, and that those unlucky souls not fated to go to camp were irrevocably sundered from us. All camps are based on exclusion. Impossible to imagine then that I would spend so much of my life in camps, around camps, thinking about camps. Even more impossible: to realize – at seven years old, in 1989 – that in twenty years there would be six million people in UNHCR camps; that considered globally, there would be twelve million people in a thousand refugee camps, and that the temporary arrangements of the camp have become a permanent fate for millions.
On Site review 27
2. Camps exist in the space between things; they are the orderly spaces that hold together the chaos caused by people passing through worlds. During initiation, the youth of the Nuer, a Nilotic people resident in what is now Southern Sudan, used to be secluded from society – the passage from boy to man was a dangerous time of uncertainty, to be spent in camps, away from parents and family. In Purity and Exile, Liisa Malkki’s study of Burundian refugees at a Tanzanian camp, she sketches out a world in which the Hutu who fled Burundi were treated like children without history by the UNHCR; neither Tanzanian nor Burundian, the refugees remained outside national categories, and in so being, threatened them. The UNHCR attempted to create an ideology of the camp, replete with UNHCR banners and parade-ground marches. 3. I can remember the day I went back to camp. 2 March 2011. Militias were attacking army positions just ten kilometres north of where I was staying, and the bodies were piling up in a tent outside my door. That night, I needed a drink, and the only place one could get alcohol was in the United Nations camp. On my way there, I passed thousands of people fleeing south. Once inside, surrounded by containers arranged in a grid system, I sat, incredulous, as five UN employees, seemingly oblivious as to what was occurring just outside, exchanged jokes about ‘Polish sausage’ and planned nights out at the ‘Brazilian Bar’. During the earlier attacks in January, one particularly flippant nurse told me, she had not known anything until she received a call from her mother in New Zealand, who was concerned by what was happening, ‘and so’, she said, ‘I turned on the television, and watched with my mum’. The UN camp in Abyei, a contested area between Sudan and South Sudan, was heavily walled, with watchtowers manned by Zambian peacekeepers every two hundred metres or so. Inside, rigid lines of containers were aligned along concrete paths. UN employees would jog along the camp’s perimeter in the early evening, when the dry-season heat became bearable. There was volleyball and barbeques; I don’t think I would have been surprised if the UN announced they were to have treasure hunts in the forest, if it were not for the fact that their staff almost never left the base. With its mixture of nationalities, I sometimes think it is a miracle that the UN functions at all (to the extremely limited extent that it does, indeed, function). Part of its ability to create an identity for itself, like all camp civilizations, relies on its separation from the
look at the resulting sketchbook with its series of landscapes, I noticed that independent of their variation, they all had that urgent stroke necessary to
get on paper what quickly would be getting out of sight. It made me think, as the hard urban inhabitant I am, that the condition of drawing quickly these landscapes was
letters : email@example.com
world outside – unlike at summer camp, however, the outside world is precisely where the UN is attempting to intervene. The UN in Abyei felt very much like a summer camp, and had a correlative lack of success in the outside world: people had flings, drank expensive wine and never sat with the local people. Divorced from the world outside, as if on a reality-TV show, the intrepid contestants of UN-World found themselves united: all the talk there was not of Sudanese politics, but of who had slept with whom. Camps create particular types of ties. Their frenetic nature anticipates and acknowledges their temporariness. You can recreate yourself at camp, because you know it is virtually cost-free: summer comes to an end (or your lucrative UN contract finishes), and you are back home, amidst the solid weight of lived identities. Camp is wonderful only in comparison to home; a life lived forever at camp is a life of forced infantilism. 4. Accompanying Heathcott’s article, there is a photograph of children at a Farm Security Administration (FSA) camp in Robstown, Texas. They look suspicious – chastened – and the photograph is ambiguous as to whether they are shrinking from the bright light that pins them to the front wall of the bungalow, or from the photographer. The photograph itself is suspicious. Identical houses run in rigid rows alongside perfectly mowed lawns. Whilst the refugee camps I have visited do not have the same levels of material comfort evinced by the photograph of Robstown, they share a family resemblance. The architects of all such camps try and ensure that they are composed of neat lines and right angles. They are so orderly that, just as when one wanders around American suburbia, the mind always turns to the spectre of chaos that must haunt the minds of the architects to justify such stultifying order, and which, without such order, would spill out and turn it all to dust. UN workers talking to the civilians they are supposed to protect. Chaos. Children wandering off into the woods at summer camp. Chaos. Refugees heading for the city, and the prospect of employment. Chaos. 5. The passion for order in the camp is not simply intended to forge a new identity among its inhabitants; it is to make sure you do not go outside the camp. From summer camps to UN camps, those who go outside are treated with suspicion. Heathcott relates that part of the reason the FSA built camps for those displaced by drought was that they viewed self-built squatter camps with alarm, as an ‘ungovernable landscape full of moral and physical danger’. This is the story of every refugee camp and internally displaced peoples’ (IDP) camp since 1947. The refugee is to remain in camp: don’t work, don’t move – just accept the help we are going to give you. Just stay put and keep quiet.
7. The permanent state of the FSA camps, Heathcott writes, was impermanence – ‘they were momentary and ephemeral, much like the dust that drove people westward in the first place’. Today, this impermanence has gathered around it institutions, funding and millions of people who want to begin lives outside the order of the camp. The camp is not a place of politics. You are not able to work or to form communities. Life is given to you. And you wait. Wait for ration cards. Wait for food. Wait for the camp to end, and life to begin again. You wait. Joshua Craze Cairo
symptomatic of my relationship to the rural, it was in-between territory that connected two urban conditions I was heading from and into. Could I take my time to actually inhabit those landscapes?
Could I sit calmly and draw them slowly, detail over detail? Or is the rural landscape to broad for our urban eyes used to seeing through glimpses and in fragmented frames?
On Site review 27
6. Before arriving in an unknown country, I ensure there is a hotel room waiting for me. In the confusion of a new place, white walls and clean sheets calm me. Later, I tell myself, there will be strange tents and street markets; for now, I will safely sink into anonymous oblivion. Camps, for both refugees and the internally displaced, are existentially akin to never leaving the hotel room.
Barbara Harrell-Bond, amongst others, has tirelessly shown how disabling it is to simply receive in this fashion. Dadaab, in northeast Kenya, is the largest refugee camp in the world (though it is actually three camps). It shot into the news recently, as its population almost doubled in a year, rising to 510,000 by October 2011. The UNHCR said there is no more room in the camps, and the media filed endless stories about impoverishment and famine. What was less reported is that refugees are not eligible for humanitarian assistance if they elect to stay outside the camps. The camps make refugees visible – something that sends donor money to the UNHCR via the aforementioned media reports – and means they can be controlled. Dadaab has now existed for twenty years. In return for food handouts, refugees are prevented from building their own lives. Camps, which, in UNHCR-speak, should be an option of ‘last resort’, have created a permanent state of impermanence for millions around the world.
rural urbanism on site 27 spring 2012 contents village roots Jason Price Joshua Craze David Murray Sarah Zollinger Miriam Ho
6 10 14 18 20
Village Vogue. Arjen van de Merwe, Malawi 2010 A Sketch for a Tent of the Future, Libya Pool Hall and Barbershop, Vilna, Alberta Barns, traces of rural Nova Scotia Fictional Terrain: Avonlea, Cavendish County, Prince Edward Island
troubled margins Dana Seguin and Christoper Katsarov Luna Corey Schnobrich Jane Wong and Saeren Vasanthakumar Isabelle Hayeur
34 50 82 86
Heritage Village, Markham, Ontario Private Dwelling in Public Space: Living on the Bulb, Albany, California Economic Spatial Trends at the Rural -Urban Border: Beijing Uprooted, a video
land marks Victor Munoz Sanz Louis Helbig Heather Asquith
4 23 28
ResEx: the entropic landscape of the Amazon Basin The Lost Villages on the banks of the St Lawrence Seaway Holland Marsh: the 5-acre plot
the north Louis Helbig Lisa Hirmer Shannon Wiley Piper Bernbaum and Fraser Plaxton
43 45 64 68
Oil Sands Margin notes from Fort MacMurray Vanishing Land: Shishmaref, Alaska Arctic Spine: a programmatic utility corridor, Inuvik
company towns Victor Munoz Sanz Kenneth Hayes Terence Gower
32 36 39
Batawa, the model town Sudbury Incontrovertible Hirshhorn, Ontario, 1956
discovering the rural Michael Taylor and Nicole la Hausse de Lalouviere Jeff Schnabel Ilona Hay Leigh Sherkin
53 48 72 74
Urban Friends in Rural Places: Copenhagen’s allotments Rural Life with Urban Networks: Hardy County, West Virginia Riots, Religion and Urban Communities: Kentish Town, London Urban Ruralism: food and cities
discovering the urban Lisa Dietrich Thomas Kohlwein
Village Dreams: Bad Laasphe’s Altstadtfest, Germany Bruck an der Mur, Austria 1 RIA: anticipating ruin in Mexico’s political landscapes Earth House, Glass House, Cave: Naramata BC Askew’s, Salmon Arm, British Columbia
other stuff Stephanie White calls for articles masthead
2 87 88
Rural notes, peripheral thoughts on site 28: sound, on site 29: geology, on site 30: ethics and publics who we all are
On Site review 27
56 58 61
projects Ivan Hernandez Quintela Allen + Maurer Allen + Maurer
e d i to r i a l t h o u g h t s | l i v i n g i n t h e p e r i p h e ry by stephanie white
On Site review 27
rural. early 15c., from O.Fr. rural (14c.), from L. ruralis ‘of the countryside’, from rus (gen. ruris) ‘open land, country’. ‘In early examples, there is usually little or no difference between the meanings of rural and rustic, but in later use the tendency is to employ rural when the idea of locality (country scenes, etc.) is prominent, and rustic when there is a suggestion of the more primitive qualities or manners naturally attaching to country life. ‘ —Oxford English Dictionary
The world is more urban than it is rural, migration to cities offers more employment, more opportunity and more social mobility than the small towns and villages in rural hinterlands. However, such towns and villages still hold much of the character and identity associated with national cultures. It is a paradox, but the past, often pre-urban, contains much potent imagery. As well, usually connected with resource extraction, new towns are being designed. Some rely on traditionally centred models, others on network systems, still others on new sustainable distribution of energy and resources. Some, like Kitimat designed in 1965 by Clarence Stein, skipped over both town and city and went straight to suburb. This issue of On Site review began with two things: one was the announcement that there would be a new town built in north-east Alberta to accommodate the thousands of workers and families needed for the oil sands. What was it going to look like? We started a loose project to set out the terms by which one would design a new town in the 21st century, which got bogged down in discussions of whether one should build at all in the oil sands. The other was a visit to the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the George Hunter archives, mostly commissioned aerial photographs of company towns made during the 1950s and 60s. His was an urban eye; his towns sat in a picturesque, rather than an instrumental, relationship with their surroundings. In Hunter’s photographs, raw little settlements ‘nestle’ in their topography, rather than interrupting it. The metropolitan view embedded the peripheral economy and resource-extraction processes into the landscape long before the actual houses and production plants themselves settled into either the landscape or the culture. • If one looks at a small town through a metropolitan lens, it is inevitably found to be crude, or under-developed, or misleadingly nostalgic. The urban gaze tries to recognise its own reality in small towns, which often develop with completely different ambitions. It is possible that rural urbanism is conceived of, enacted and understood in a profoundly different way from metropolitan urbanism. It is not just a smaller version. What would it mean to develop a reflexive lens from the periphery itself, through which we can view settlements in the periphery? This would upset the core-periphery tradition whereby raw resources are extracted in some benighted, but beautiful, hinterland, transported to the core which adds value and then exported back, as consumer products, to the periphery. The past fifty years of decolonisation have been just such an upset, but not, apparently, in the discussion of architecture and urbanism. With the contributors to this issue alone, many of whom grew up in very small places, the core has absorbed them and their energy, much to the benefit of the core, leaving the periphery bereft.
s w hit e
above: study image from the CCA: George Hunter. Community for Wesfrob Mine, Tasu, Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, 1965 below: Tasu was an iron and copper open pit, an underground mining operation and townsite on the south shore of Tasu Sound in west-central Moresby Island in the Queen Charlotte Islands. This view is of the townsite as seen from the pit, about 1978. The mine was closed in 1985. bottom: Tasu townsite, 2005
Behind the small town/big city discussion of opportunities, there is a darker background. The rural-urban divide is made much of in our political culture, inevitably pitting a powerful conservative rural lobby, against a liberal educated urban critical mass which holds on to most of the media. It is a pathologised J o dy G o f f ic
‘Andean silletero carrying a European across the Cordillera. from Le Tour du Monde, Paris 1879.’ Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. Routledge, 1992 We were once supposed to identify with the effete, bored, idle tourist who couldn’t climb a mountain; the poor sod lugging him was without character, resigned to his task. A basic understanding of civil rights must kick in here: now we consider the silletero, his culture, where he lives, how he lives. To do otherwise is inconceivable. Qualities of the core, our wealthy, literate tourist: controlled, known, exploitative. Qualities of the periphery, our silletero: exotic, wild, lawless, potentially dangerous, exploitable. So, considering the rural as a territory full of history, alliances, geological rhythms, considerable wealth and a powerful sense of independent development misinterpreted by more developed urban cultures, what do we find? Above and below: the top figure is carried, enabled, allowed and protected by the bottom one.
Calgary, top, and Fort McMurray, below
On Site review 27
My thanks to Jason Price, Kenneth Hayes and Thomas-Bernard Kenniff with whom I discussed this rural/peripheral dilemma.
Bran t Ward
dialectical relationship, a war which extends into the centre of government, each side stereotyped and stigmatised. Rather than thinking of the small prairie town, say, as an iconic Who Has Seen the Wind sort of place, increasingly it is seen as somewhere like Meyerthorp: violent and lethal. For any young architect who has gone home, tried to make a go of it in their own small town and came up against boosterish town councils who, when pressed will always seek an architect from the largest city they can afford, rather than anyone local, this is the periphery in action. For those who are sticking to it and making a place for architecture in rural Canada, they deserve our attention. • It has been 50 years since Andre Gunder Frank wrote about dependency and underdevelopment, and Immanuel Wallerstein wrote about world systems theory, in response to the complexity of decolonisation of what was then known as the third world, a peripheral condition certainly, to the first world. The outline of core-periphery relations revealed that the ‘core’, which felt it was the only source of knowledge and power, knew very little about the rest of the world, which knew other things. The sense that there can be any sort of arbitration by any sort of core authority to convey legitimacy, the basic tenet of colonialism, was demolished by Wallerstein and a generation of Latin American theorists of the 1960s. Historically, yes, it happened, but it is not necessary to continue in this relationship. I feel I have to explain this because of the debate over the title to this issue of On Site review – whether to use the word rural, or peripheral. The relationship between town and country is not new; even I’ve been writing about it since the 1980s, however always writing from an architectural periphery: Canada, then western Canada, then outside academia. Nonetheless, in architecture, the periphery is often considered to be dominated by some sort of risible rural vernacular, outside contemporary architectural discourse. The core-periphery relationship, including the semi-periphery, and peripheries within the core, and cores outside both world cities and core economies, the rise of the BRIC (the old semi-periphery), the faltering of the Eurozone (the old core) – the basic relationship of core to periphery is often critiqued today without understanding that at root, it itself is a critique of assumptions of power and hegemony. • Canada has a curious relationship with its hinterlands. Rural is not a word to apply to northern Ontario, that is the bush. Rural Nova Scotia refers to the valley and some of the ocean edges, the rest is the barrens. Rural Quebec is thought of as the Townships, not the Shield. Rural British Columbia consists of small towns in the valleys between mountain ranges, the rest is either the coast or the mountains. Clearly ruralness is habitable land, preferably something to do with agriculture, rather than logging or mining. And despite official city status, living in the rural City of Red Deer is quantitatively and qualitatively different from living in the City of Vancouver, and it is not just the weather. –
i nc r e me n t al gr ow th i nd i ge no us k now led ge hy b r i d i nd u s tr y s u s t ai n a b i l i ty r e s o u r c e e x tr action
ResEx the entropic landscape of the Amazon basin i n f r a s t ru c t u r e | l i g h t e x t r ac t i o n n e t wo r k s b y v í c to r m u ñ o z s a n z
In the collective imagination, the Amazon rainforest might be a remote land; an entelechy unable to hold any kind of manmade potentiality and in which protection relies on passive conservation. This Old World view makes of it just a supply for lowly-valued natural resources. Hard resource extraction-forexport models, dictated and controlled by external, urban, actors have a profound impact on local ecologies: monocultures, timber, minerals and oil extraction satisfy short-term mindsets and urban needs.
On Site review 27
Reservas Extrativistas (RESEX) are forest conservation units in the Brazilian Amazon. RESEXs are not based on the notion of protection by keeping the landscape untouched. They acknowledge that the forest has been used and exploited for hundreds of years by local populations in a sustainable way. Studies on the way land management works in the reserves have revealed a model based on intricate networks, in which the forest as a whole is subdivided into a liquid patchwork of properties, trails and forest units. Reflecting on the potential of embedding such systems in the context of the current project of regional infrastructural integration in South America (Iniciativea para la Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Suramericana – IIRSA), reveals ways to achieve sustainable conservation of biodiversity, forests and local communities and traditions. The rubber boom of the late nineteenth century brought an integrated extractive economy and hierarchically linked urban systems that relied on the Amazon River system as the spine for access and transport of goods. Global capital centres, national metropoli, regional nodes within the Amazon landscape, strategically located river ports, trading posts in small towns, and finally the farmsteads – which were at the centre of a network of trails that extended into the forest matrix, were articulated by political-economic power, capital flows and internal trade and labour migration patterns. With the collapse of the rubber economy in Brazil in the early twentieth century, these systems and the basis of that socio-economic and spatial dependency remained in place, but in the context of economical stagnation, deep rural poverty and demographic stabilisation. After World War II, policies of national integration and infrastructure set the conditions for the occupation and development of the Amazon, bringing other ways of making profit off the land, such as large-scale cattle ranching. The global economy and the Amazon were now linked by a disarticulated
system that substituted for previous relationships, others such as free-trade zones, industrial poles and transportation hubs connected by highways and regional airports.1 The pressure of cattle ranching in the Amazonian state of Acre in southwest Brazil forced rubber tappers to struggle to protect their forest holdings. Deforestation was increasing exponentially and the rubber tappers saw their land and traditional way of living severely threatened. The assassination of their leader, Chico Mendes, in 1988 was the tragic spur that led to the creation of Extractive Resources in 1990. RESEXs were conceived as government-owned lands designed for the sustainable extraction of forest products and the conservation of the traditional way that natural resources are collected. Rubber, nuts, herbs, fruits, medicinal plants and other saleable goods are extracted using known harvesting techniques that have proved to be successful over approximately a century of continuous use.2 The system of land occupation and use in the reserves is the last node of the hierachical system of resource extraction that existed during the rubber boom and which linked these remote areas of the rainforest with the global capitalist markets. However, the dense forest cover hides an articulated and unusual system of rural land management and extraction, which also holds the potential of being connected to the world economy. This is a
model based in camouflaged and decentralised networks, in which the forest as a whole is subdivided into an unmapped, invisible and fluid patchwork of properties, trails and forest units. Reserves are divided into seringais (rubber estates) composed of colocações (farmsteads) scattered in the forest connected by a network of paths. These clearings in the Amazon, ranging from 1/2 to 15 ha, are the centre from which three to five rubber trails radiate into the forest. It takes approximately 100-125 ha of forest to create a single rubber trail about 6 km long. The trails define a 20m extractive forest strip, representing approximately 10% of the total forest, and they maximise encounters with the most lucrative species. Extractivists buy and sell the usage rights to these trails, allowing those who depend on more intense extractive activities to expand their pasture and cropland onto additional holdings without breaking the 10% deforestation rule that exists in the Reserves. The colocaçao and its trails form a fluid property system defined by its trees rather than by fixed polygons in Euclidean space.3 The interrelationship between the new infrastructure that is being deployed in the Amazon and the RESEXs is an opportunity to hybridise the postwar disarticulated pattern of extractionmercantilism and the hierarchical networks of sustainable use of the forest resources. The remoteness of the Amazonian communities and their infrastructure deficiencies have, in the past, caused quite high extraction and production costs. However, new networks of IIRSA infrastucture and the strategic interest in bio-prospecting and company-community agreements in some sectors – mainly cosmetics and pharmaceuticals – will make these costs irrelevant when compared to the benefits received, both monetary and in terms of public image.
Browder, John D and Brian J Godfrey. Rainforest Cities: Urbanization, development, and globalization of the Brazilian Amazon. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997 Fearnside, Philip M. ‘Extractive Reserves in Brazilian Amazonia’. BioScience 39 (June 1989): 387-393 Kainer, Karen A., and Mary L. Duryea. ‘Tapping Women’s Knowledge: Plant Resource in Extractive Reserves, Acre, Brazil’. Economic Botany 46, no. 4 (1992): 408-425 Marchese, Daniela. Eu entro pela perna direita: espaco, representacao e identidade do seringueiro no Acre. Rio Branco: EDUFAC, 2005. Vadjumec, Jacqueline M and Dianne Rocheleau. ‘Beyond Forest Cover: Land Use and Biodiversity in Rubber Trail Forests of the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve’. Ecology and Society 14, no. 2 (2009).
On Site review 27
1 Browder and Godfrey 1997, pp55-82 2 Fearnside 1989, p389 3 Vadjumec and Rocheleau 2009, p3; Kainer and Duryea 1992, p411
The role of the Amazonian forest in macro-ecological processes, such as the water cycle and the balance of gases that affect global climate, should be a reason strong enough to make conservation profitable. However, the RESEX model of light and connected decentralised extraction reveals new ways of re-imagining the Amazonian hinterland to achieve a more integral and sustainable relationship across production, infrastructure, landscape, urbanism and local knowledge, able to compete in the global capitalist economy. –
a rje n va n de m e rw e v i s ua l c u lt u r e | double discourse by jason price
village vogue Arjen van de Merwe’s Malawi 2010
A dozen photographs featuring a handful of Malawians modelling locally-designed high fashion set against peri-urban backdrops playing with typical practices of everyday life likely not (or no longer) their own, Malawi 2010 invites dialogue about a whole mess of issues quietly pressing on the lives of contemporary Malawians—from gender disparity to identity management and class formation, to fresh desires in the face of old obligations, not to mention new distinctions (and divisions) erupting within increasingly tight spaces determined largely by relations to scarcity.
On Site review 27
This unappreciated series was composed by Dutch photographer Arjen van de Merwe. For the last six years has provided up-market photography to different agencies and organisations from his base in Blantyre, where he also teaches at the Malawi Institute of Journalism.1
par adox s e lf -f as h io n in g c las s fo r matio n ambigu ity af r ic a
Unlike many contemporary cultural productions in this relatively poor, comparatively provincial, landlocked Central African country, van de Merwe’s series is ambiguous in its aims and intentions; as such, it elicits a wide range of readings. Examples include a condemnation of polygyny with reference to its shocking durability; an exposé of a new male desire that fuses contrasting forms of femininity; a rallying cry for cultural heritage in the face of encroaching modernities; a defence of cosmopolitanism via sly reference to suave corporeal ease; a steadfast denial of conservative mores rooted as much in traditional culture as in Christianity; a stinging broadside against a set of slumming, self-serving, sell-out elites; and a celebration of an inherent and timeless (yet rooted and nimble) beauty that can only be dubbed ‘African’. In this review, I emphasise van de Merwe’s use of fashion photography to explore the phenomenon of rural urbanism in twenty-first century Malawi.
Heavily trafficked (and contested) lakeside property for centuries, what we now call ‘Malawi’ was once christened ‘Nyasaland’ by the British in 1907. A puzzle piece in the Empire’s Central African Federation, the picturesque protectorate was initially conceived as a migrant labour pool for massive industrial projects in Northern and Southern Rhodesia—the rural foil to the resource-driven urbanism in what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe. Nyasaland’s reputation as something of a hinterland didn’t change much following independence in 1964, as paternalistic Life President Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda maintained that Malawians were, almost by divine decree, natural-born farmers. As such, he constructed a national agenda rooted in cash-cropping (tobacco and tea) and subsistence farming (corn). To be a good citizen in Kamuzu’s Malawi generally meant to stay put, keep quiet and cultivate your maize. Cut to 1994 and the dawning of something resembling multi-party democracy and free-market capitalism, and watch scores of Malawians leave the proverbial village for town in hopes of finding ‘greener pastures’ (a phrase not uncommon here). These are the historical forces that have made southern Malawi one of the more densely-packed, rapidlyurbanising areas in all of Sub-Saharan Africa. These are the spaces that van de Merwe casts as setting for Malawi 2010 –key spaces which suggest that urban and rural are sometimes best understood as inflections of one another. The choice of fashion photography as a way to grapple with rural urbanism is appropriate when we consider that concepts like self-fashioning2 and cultural style3 have emerged as indispensable tools for theorising these pivotal, open-ended, upfor-grabs geographies. ‘Fashion’ and ‘style’ not in the sartorial sense exactly, but dynamically, in terms of the productive and creative capacities associated with the manipulation of available resources at particular times and places—be they corporeal, entrepreneurial, linguistic, material, social, spiritual or even virtual. Any good philosopher will tell you that the world is not entirely made for us, nor do we entirely make the world. What we think of as reality is always the product of a series of tugs-of-war saddled as much by chance as by desire and intent. That’s the fraught double discourse I think van de Merwe’s series indexes with his out-of-place, homeward-bound subjects set against these betwixt and between locations. Though (and here’s the rub) I somehow doubt this was his intention. Having shared Malawi 2010 with friends in African studies, I discovered that some found it to be tired and perhaps even a bit dangerous. Here is one response: I can’t say that I had high hopes after that description of the blending of the traditional and the modern. I just guess I’m baffled that we’re still talking about Africa in this way. The pictures are cute and all and I love fashion as much as the next gal, but there’s nothing about this that strikes me as particularly interesting or as any real deviation from the conventional script that thinly veils a racist (or at least paternalistic, and uncalled for) shock that African people act and experience life in ways that we call ‘modern’.
On Site review 27
a rje n va n de m e rw e
I understand this. For the last generation or so, scholars trained in cultural critique have fought hard to destabilise old divisions like urban/rural and traditional/modern. Binaries like these, we say, mask the complexities of everyday life by stripping lifeworlds of their indelible nuance, thereby rendering persons and situations misleadingly flat, and ultimately contributing (however subtly) to a politics of impossibility. As a result, we’ve tried to shift the conversation towards the provisional, contingent qualities of the everyday by directing our attention towards more dynamic objects such as ‘processes of becoming’ and ‘states of emergence’4 —interactive spaces that highlight the fundamentally murky quality of life as lived, and which allow us to spot (and report) novel social forms as they arise in the manifest wiggle rooms produced by human societies. But because reductivism is so seductive and resilient, its critique remains one of our main preoccupations; so it comes as little surprise when some of my colleagues target Malawi 2010 for this kind of tried-and-true take down. Van de Merwe does himself few favours, however, by describing the piece as a series about modern and traditional culture; the fashionable models symbolise modern Malawian culture; they are placed in a traditional setting. This is lowest-commondenominator reductivism, a page taken from ‘the conventional script’ (as my friend put it) – lazy at best, but also misleading. The ‘traditional setting’ van de Merwe speaks of is actually Soche, a high-density area in Blantyre, perhaps the largest city in Malawi. And equating a complex, multivalent Malawian modernity with fashionable elites is not only inadequate, but opens up some worrying implications. The images work better on their own. In particular, I have been struck by their ability to tap into the radical ambivalence and insipid tensions that undergird the kind of rural urbanisms we find in places like Malawi. The fashionable models are both present and absent, at home yet afar, both actual and abstract. The places are neither strictly urban nor firmly rural. Everything is process, nothing is fixed. Things could get better but things could also get worse. There is the potential for action, but only under constraint. Skepticism, jealousy and resentment lie in wait. It seems like we know these people, but not what they’re after.
On Site review 27
arj en van de merwe
Substituting less determinative dichotomies for rigid older ones does more to account for the depth of predicament evoked by Malawi 2010. This was the approach taken by the social philosopher Georg Simmel, whose essay on fashion remains one of the more insightful meditations on the subject.5 For Simmel, fashion represents both a flight from reality (‘a triumph of the soul over the actual circumstances of existence’) and a sobering relation to it (‘a form of imitation and so of social equalisation, but, paradoxically, in changing incessantly, it differentiates one time from another and one social stratum from another. It unites those of a social class and segregates them from others’). However vital, selffashioning is always precarious. I would add that self-fashioning is particularly precarious in zones of radical inequality, like the emergent rural urbanisms we see in Malawi 2010; and it is that precariousness that van de Merwe’s series manages to evoke.
Malawi is an excellent case in point, as social life is marked by experiments in style that can trigger suspicions expressed through levelling mechanisms which subtly target budding distinctions. While witchcraft accusation and dispossession are two of the more familiar techniques in this area of the world, more subtle and productive forms are sure to emerge which complement more coercive and cirminal methods. During the writing of this review, for instance, a wave of urban street vendors in Malawi’s three main cities reportedly went ‘on a rampage undressing women and girls wearing trousers, leggings, shorts and mini-skirts... claiming that the President had sent them to clean the streets of women dressed inappropriately’.6 This action did not happen in isolation, and there is no easy way to account for it, but it does underscore the high stakes at play in projects associated with identity management and class formation, particularly within the context of gender. Keeping a critical eye on how fashion and style evoke some of the flights and paradoxes at work in emergent geographies of rural urbanism offers insight into the directions that broader social and historical forces may take as architects of time and space. Insofar as Malawi 2010 encourages us to do so, van de Merwe’s series is successful and, in this context, original. – 1 Malawi 2010: http://www.arjen-van-de-merwe.nl/ 2 See Gaurav Desai's Subject to Colonialism (2001). 3 See James Ferguson's Expectations of Modernity (1999). 4 See Abdou Maliq Simone's For the City Yet to Come (2004) 5 Simmel, Georg. ‘Fashion’ American Journal of Sociology 62(6): 541-58. (1957) 6 See Claire Ngozo's report, ‘Malawi: Street Vendors Lose Customers after Stripping Women Naked’ http://ipsnews.net/text/news.asp?idnews=106541
On Site review 27
a rje n va n de m e rw e
d e s e rt s t ru c t u r e s qadhafi’s tent b y j o s h ua c r a z e p h oto g r a p h s b y g i u l i o p e t ro c c o
a sketch for the tent of the future
Freetown, Sierra Leone Welcome to Japan. Home of a secret society named after the products they bring in from the ports. The influential Green Book, a manifesto for the perfect democracy, and in it, Qadhafi’s diagram for the organisation of the Jamahiriyya. Looking up from the port of Freetown at the hill communities. In the1980s, these areas were where students smoked grass and plotted revolution. facing page: Rebel fighter during the battle for Bir Ghanam, Aug 2011.
So what can I – a poor Bedouin – hope for in a modern city of insanity? — Muammar Qadhafi
On Site review 27
1 One of the central dilemmas of European literature in the nineteenth century is the movement of the country to the town: the play of masks given to the young man who arrives in the city to begin life afresh, cutting ties with everything he knows, for the promise of a place in which he can make himself anew. This great drama continues apace in the twenty-first century. The drama contains within itself two central narratives. In the first, people preserve memories of rural life. Turkish villagers, uprooted to Greek cities in the wake of the population transfer of 1923, used to call streets after the names of the villages and families they had left behind; impersonal street signs were replaced by the continuities of kin. In Sierra Leone, the secret societies that organise rural life are also found in the cities – only now their purpose has changed. On the rubbish-filled waterfront of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s coastal capital, I came across a secret society called ‘The Japanese’, the name a commentary on the work its members did as port labourers, laying rhetorical claim to the gleaming Toyotas they bring off the ships and their insertion into the global economy.
In the city, the village. The second narrative is, for me at least, closer to home. In June, the small village in the south-west of France in which I live is almost deserted. No one grows crops here: rather, farmers farm the EU subsidies they receive for letting their fields lie fallow. The young people who remain loll in the central square. In the absence of genuinely rural rhythms (the silence of winter, frenzy of the harvest), the villages in this area of France are small emaciated cities. The young watch television all day and have the same phones, computers, and posed busyness that marks France’s urban youth, but they have nowhere to go and nothing to do; they remain suspended, gazing at the city portrayed on their screens. In the village, the city. But what if the rural could be something else? Neither the nostalgia of the displaced, nor an inadequate version of the urban. What if the rural could be a model for the way urban life should be?
On Site review 27
3 It is often said that newly independent former-colonies are ‘not really nations’. In the case of Libya, such a statement has the advantage of being true. Prior to the arrival of the Ottoman empire, strong alliances, both tribal and peasant, organised the country. In Cyrenaica, the Sanusiya built an order based on trade and informal institutions, while around Tripoli, cosmopolitan Tripolitania emerged. In 1922, a new fascist government in Rome abrogated its treaties with the two states that then existed in Libya – the Sanusi Emirate and the Tripolitanian Republic – and began a colonial war that in Africa is only bested by Algeria and Congo in its brutality. At the cost of at least 500,000 lives, Italy subdued the rural hinterland of Libya, the site of the fiercest resistance to colonialism. At the end of World War II when Libya was given independence and the British were establishing military bases in the country, there was little to bind the nation together, other than a wish to be left alone by the colonial powers and a strong history of anti-urban sentiment in the desert hinterlands. Oil transformed this nascent state, and with it came the slow emergence of a middle class. Teachers were imported from Egypt and Palestine to teach, and they brought ideas of Arab nationalism to their Libyan students. When the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) overthrew King Idriss Al-Sanusi, they declared the birth of a Libyan Arab Republic, clearly inspired by Nasser’s Egyptian revolution in 1952. All but two of the twelve officers in the RCC were from marginal tribes. It was a revolution of the lower-middle classes from the hinterlands, who came to the richer cities of the Mediterranean coast with the promise to make it new. But how to rule? And to what end? How to build these disparate regional loyalties into something resembling a nation?
2 Freetown spreads up from the port, slums slowly creeping into the hills. In the 1980s, these areas were still bush, and it was here that one found the potes – places where students from the nearby university could come to smoke marijuana, read books and discuss politics. Communism no longer offered much in the way of revolutionary support, and for the young intellectuals who would later go on to found the Revolutionary United Front, ushering in ten years of brutal civil war, Qadhafi’s Green Book was a central inspiration. I picked up a second-hand copy when I was in Sierra Leone; one of many English-language editions circulated by the Libyan government. Someone has furiously underlined page 108, which is titled ‘The Blacks Will Prevail in the World’. Africa was Qadhafi’s last great stage. As his dream of Arab nationalism burned out, he transferred his energies south, trying to install himself as the head of the African Union and sponsoring a series of violent civil wars on the continent. It would be unfair to Qadhafi, however, to say that it was only his money that talked. Elsewhere in West Africa, I remember acquiring a slim pamphlet, written by a Ghanian revolutionary who had trained in Libya during the 1980s. He wrote with awe about Libya’s popular committees and its road network. Most surprising was his enthusiasm for the ideology of the Green Book: here, he wrote, was a creed that was not an imperialist imposition; it understood the tradition of direct democracy to which all of Africa is heir. Deluded or not, his words are a tribute to a book that circulated throughout Africa, and at a time when the Communist era was closing, managed to get thousands of people thinking about the relationship between the rural and the urban in a different way.
On Site review 27
4 Initially, despite the RCC’s backing for Nasser’s trinity of freedom, socialism, and unity, it pursued policies largely identical to that of the monarchy that preceded it. In 1970, following the Egyptian model, political parties were banned, leading to a loss of support within the country. Shortly afterwards Qadhafi made his most famous speech, on 15 July 1973, and announced that the old bureaucracy was to be replaced by popular committees. This heralded the beginning of the triumph of the bedouin hinterlands over the cities. This movement, from the tent to the city, is the great theme of Qadhafi’s fiction which, while formulaic, is revealing. Time and again in his short stories, the central question emerges: how is the bedouin to exist in the modern world? Is he to be crushed like an ant, his soul worn down at the factory, to be stepped on along the long city boulevards? Or is there another way: could the bedouin become the model for the city? The Jamahiriyya (state of the masses), was declared in 1977, and took its inspiration from Qadhafi’s Green Book, published in 1975. It announced that representation is fraud. Political parties pretend to represent the people, but are only concerned with their own interests. Classes are no better. Qadhafi was explicitly anti-statist, writing that ‘the state is an artificial economic and political system…with which mankind has no relationship’. In Libya’s direct democracy, Qadhafi held, everyone will join popular committees, which will then chose people’s committees to run public utilities; quite how these latter committees were to prevent the problem of representation was never answered. Nonetheless, Qadhafi achieved something remarkable – he harnessed the great Libyan tradition of hinterland resistance to colonialism, and articulated this distrust of the state in a populist
this page: Libyan rebel fighter sets up and aims a missile before shooting it towards Qadhafi loyalists trenched in the town of Bir Ghanam, Libya, on Aug 1, 2011.
facing page: Rebel fighter exchanging gunfire with Qadhafi loyalists during the battle for Bir Ghanam, on Aug 6, 2011.
language understood by the people: he made the distrust of the state the basis of his state project. On the surface, it may seem like Qadhafi’s political system is but another variant of the sort of direct democracy which begins with Rousseau – there is the same distrust of representation, and the same endorsement of direct participation as the only real means to ensure a legitimate government. The Green Book even echoes Rousseau in its suspicion of theatre, which may distract man from his direct participation in public life. What Qadhafi uses to criticise the theatre however, is not a model of the citizen, but an appeal to the life of the bedouin. 5 Many of the nations that sit on the edge of the desert have placed the bedouin at the center of their national mythology, even as they busily modernise and forget the bedouins’ rigourous egalitarianism and concern with socio-economic rights: witness Doha’s comical, surreally monumental coffee pot, a strange symbol of bedouin hospitality for a land of underpaid migrant workers in which the bedouins themselves are pushed to the margins of the city.
Qadhafi’s Libya was different. The very qualities the Green Book eulogises as those that should be the basis of the nation are centred in Qadhafi’s understanding of what it is to be bedouin. The Libyan nation, he held, is merely a ‘big tribe’. Analogously, Qadhafi’s inner circle were known as the Rijal Al-Kheima, the men of the tent. Qadhafi pursued policies of bedouinisation and attacked urban values. He did not want to destroy the cities, but to transform them into places governed by the sort of affinal feeling and egalitarianism he saw among the bedouins; a people who would not be distracted by the delights of the city, but could commit themselves to the serious business of building a nation. At least, that is how it was supposed to work out.
7 As the Libyan regime fell, and images poured in of endless swimming pools, caged tigers and the various fantasies of the Qadhafi clan, it was easy to be cynical about the people’s committees, and the history of the Jamahiriyya. I traced other continuities, as the revolution continued. If the rebels at Bir Ghanam you see in the photos around this text were fighting against Qadhafi, they were also fighting with the same spirit, and the same hostility to exterior power, that Qadhafi harnessed to build his state. All over Libya, regional bodies, peoples’ committees and growing self-governance emerged. Today, the question of the Libyan state is again an open question, and it is not too outlandish to think that, over the body of Qadhafi, something of his ideology will continue. It may not be the moment for the people of Sierra Leone to stop watching Libya just yet. –
6 Some in the RCC resisted, claiming that some degree of technocracy was necessary to manage the state. Following a failed coup against him in 1975, Qadhafi tightened his grip on power, and paranoia set in. The Libyan state became one that denied its own existence. In theory, everything was in the hands of the people’s committees. In reality, everything became increasingly informal – decisions about oil, foreign policy and defence were taken out of the hands of the committees and instead made by the very technocrats Qadhafi had wanted to remove from power, except this time the technocrats were invisible and firmly under his control. The whole process is summed up by the bizarre spectacle of Qadhafi’s tent, in which he famously met visiting heads of state. To the end of his life, Qadhafi claimed he wasn’t the head of state. In a sense, he was right. There was no state – just a seemingly
empty place that he inhabited: the whole structure of political egalitarianism was made possible by oil revenues that flowed to a state that was informal and gained its efficacy through the fact that it denied its own existence. When you entered Qadhafi’s tent, you entered the hollow image on which he had constructed his private state: a formal egalitarianism that allowed an enormous private hierarchy, based on friends and family, with Qadhafi sitting on the top of it.
On Site review 27
F r i ends of V i l na Pool Hal l S o cie t y
r e s to r at i o n | main street b y dav i d m u r r ay
lo c al h is to r ie s re s to r atio n f abr ic in s titu tio n s do c u me n tatio n
from the top: Main Street, Vilna, Alberta. 1950. The pool hall and barbershop is the second building in on the left. The Taschuks in 1945 in front of the pool hall: Marie Pylypa, sister Ann Chownick, their mother Sandra Taschuk, Leo Wowk the barber, and their father John Taschuk. The pool hall in 2009 before the restoration project began.
On Site review 27
vilna pool hall and barbershop
davi d mur ray
da v id m ur ra y
early in the life of the building. When we found it, the building consisted of the pool hall and barbershop at the front, on Main Street, with a lean-to residence of four rooms for the owner and family on the back. John and Sandra Taschuk had moved to Vilna from a local farm when they bought the pool hall in 1935. John paid for the building and business with earnings from working on the Shandro Ferry that crossed the nearby North Saskatchewan River. The Taschuks had three children, Ann, Bill and Marie; only Marie, five years old, was living with the family at the time of the move and shared a small bedroom with her grandmother. Leo Wowk was hired as the barber; Bill worked for his father from 1937 to 1942 and then after he learned barbering skills, took over the business in 1947. Bill Taschuk married Lilly and together they ran the Pool Hall and Barber Shop until Bill retired in 1997. The Friends of the Vilna Pool Hall Society purchased the property shortly after, and applied for protection. It was designated as a Provincial Historic Site in 2007. The Pool Hall and Barbershop was the prime hang-out for men in almost any small town up until the 1970s. In Vilna, the other scene was the hotel, conveniently next door. Local workers, such as the grain elevator men, gathered here after work, and there was a residential high school in town whose young men spent many hours at the Pool Hall. It was dangerous and attractive.
Vilna is a small village 100 km north east of Edmonton. Area history includes early fur traders and forts along the North Saskatchewan River, but it became a destination for eastern European immigrants because of its similar climate to central and eastern Europe and its agricultural opportunities.1 Vilna’s post office was opened in 1920 after the Canadian Northern Railway built a line to Cold Lake. Unlike most villages in Alberta, Vilna has not seen a significant economic decline. It is midway between the larger centres of Smoky Lake and St. Paul, and only a few kilometres from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation. With a population of less than 300, it is a significant commercial base and was the smallest community to participate in the Alberta Main Street Revitalisation Programme between 2000 and 2004. Vilna is also the repository of a significant collection of false front early-twentieth century commercial buildings that have retained much of their integrity. We (David Murray and Alan Partridge) inventoried the historic structures and began the task of restoring the façades over a four-year period. Of the many buildings we worked on, the Pool Hall and Barbershop stands out as the most significant – it is the only remaining pool hall and barber shop in Alberta. The building was probably built in 1921 – information before 1935 is sketchy. The addition of living quarters occurred very
On Site review 27
Fr ie n d s o f V i l na Pool Hal l S oci ety
Martha Taschuk sunning herself on the back porch, 1937. Bill and Lilly Taschuk beside the porch at the back of the house, 1949. When the restoration started, the house addition was half its original size. It had been partially demolished after the family moved out in the 1950s. The remaining part of the addition had been used for storage.
The barber could do 35 cuts a day; every man and boy got a regular haircut. The barber chair was in the storefront window and the pool tables were in the back. Tall benches made it easy to see whatever action there was: lots of fights in the hall, girls seldom entered. Men used chewing tobacco and spitoons extensively and the walls and ceilings are yellow with nicotine. Two pre-WWI 12-foot Brunswick Balke Collender snooker tables and two 8-foot Samuel May billiard tables, one from 1947, are still in use. The original cue racks, coal stove, benches and scoring devices, as well as the original front counter, are still intact. The original fir 1x4 tongue and groove flooring was treated with used crankcase oil and it had been repaired around the tables with plywood, attesting to an important economy of means. Both the pool hall and the residence were heated by coal stoves, eventually replaced by gas. Vilna didn’t have electricity until the early 1950s; before this electric lights were run off a generator. Life in the back was a domestic contrast to the pool hall. While the pool hall was roofed with sawn cedar shingles, the house just had asphalt roll roofing. Both were clad in spruce drop siding over 1x6 sheathing, uninsulated, no eavestroughs. John and Sandra raised their children here until the 1950s when they built a house nearby. The attached living space fell into disrepair, used as storage and was eventually taken down.
On Site review 27
16 As a restoration project, we proposed that the Pool Hall and Barbershop should feel like a step back in time, about 1946 and 1947, when life was getting back to normal after a long interval of war. The Alberta economy was just starting to boom and there were still no signs of the social changes to come in the 1960s and 70s when the fortunes of the pool hall began to decline. Restoration, cleaning and repairs should not remove the scrapes, scratches and wear that marks the life of the pool hall
da v id m ur ra y
over its lifetime; repairs simply to extend the life of the building and its functioning equipment. It won’t be heated by coal, but by a high-efficiency furnace in the crawlspace, a functional acknowledgement that this is the 2010s, not the 1940s. The front building was structurally stabilised and restored in 2003. The foundations are new: there can be a very high water table in Vilna, and one year recently it was just below ground level. Consequently, the foundations were in terrible condition – rotten, as there was almost no crawlspace. The entire floor structure was replaced. Because the adjacent buildings are so close, the pool hall was lifted up, joists were replaced and it was dropped back down onto its new concrete foundation. The façade was rebuilt to its original configuration – it had been changed from the original in the 1960s when a car ran into it. Many of the changes to this building had occurred in the 1960s, including replacing the outhouse by a inside toilet. The interior, with all its furnishings, has been carefully preserved. The Friends of the Vilna Pool Hall Society owns the building and it is now open to the public for a game of pool or billiards. The charges for using the tables and for the haircuts by an experienced volunteer go towards maintaining the building.
In the restoration process the entire back addition was removed. The photo, left, shows the door that led from the house to the pool hall.Â below: the pool hall jacked up and new foundations and joists installed. bottom: the finished, restored pool hall and barbershop, 2011.
da v id m ur ra y
The next phase in the life of this building is the reconstruction of the attached rooms at the back. Details have been gathered from historical photographs and interviews with former residents such as Marie Pylupa, Lilly Taschuk and Violet Preston who boarded there during the winter of 1947. The history of this small town institution is rich with stories and fortunately for all of us, a few family members are still around to tell them. â€“
References: Vilna Pool Hall and Barbershop Preliminary Study by David Murray Architect and HIP Architects 1999 Vilna Pool Hall and Barbershop Interim Report by David Murray Architect and HIP Architects
On Site review 27
On Site review 27
Beleaguered barns stand guard over the village as best they can; wind and rain work together to break them apart. Opening small holes, rotting what is inside, the hurricane winds creep inside breaking, pulling, pushing them apart. Because the pressure is from the inside, roofs fly off, walls collapse out to the ground. Some barns have been lucky, have found new purpose or have owners that mend and patch and hope that they will last another year, another hurricane season, through the stormy winter and into the spring. Waiting again, for the one hundred and eightieth year, for the hurricanes that begin blowing in June. These barns are a testament to who we were though we are, technically, Halifax. In 1996 we stopped being a village, one of many communities amalgamated into the Halifax Regional Municipality. The HRM is 400km long (east to west) and 50-60 km (north to south): over 5500 square kilometres. They call us a ‘community’, at least that’s what the signs says as you come into our village, but we continue to believe that this place is different, separate, from the city.
barns settlement | identity by sarah zollinger
a g r i c ul t ur a l pa t t er ns re- o c c upa t i on c ommuni t y sust ena nc e wea t her
On Site review 27
The road we are on loops, following the ocean. One end reaches into Halifax, the other way reaches the highway. We are on the farthest point on that loop, farther from the highway exits and amenities than our neighbouring villages that are expanding and growing faster than we are: there houses seem to pop up nearly daily. The longer you live here the further away the 45-minute drive to town, to Halifax, feels. Many who live here work in town but dream of when they will be able to give up the commute, what they could do here and how it would work to work in our village. People dream of making this village a village again. We dream, not city dreams but the opposite, dreams of the country, dreams of (really, fully) living in the village. There are still people who make their living, or at least augment it, by fishing or digging clams at low tide and because it is the country, people do have kitchen gardens but mostly to augment their purchases from the giant chain grocery store. Once, every family scraped their livelihoods out of the heavy clay soil, digging rocks out of the earth each spring and piling on seaweed before the frost, bringing nutrition and air to the soil. Now there is only one family that farms here and it is because of them that we see cows grazing the fields that border the ocean. Knock on the door at the right time and you might walk away with a dozen eggs laid this morning, but that is only one farm of many that were here. This place has changed and continues to. The barns are the casualty of the shift in lifestyle. They are useful, yes, for storing all the accoutrements of modern life in the country such as snow mobiles and ATV’s, surfboards and lawn tractors, but they are no longer necessary. The barns no longer hold what sustains us; we no longer need them, save for the way they sit in the landscape and create the pastoral beauty in which we live.
There once was a calming symmetry to the village. Houses and barns were, in the 1800s, built by the same hands, with similar proportions, rock foundations, materials and technologies – always the pair, standing together or watching each other across what was a path. The houses are still here but now they look out at foundations or piles of rocks: the barns they once supported are only brought back in reminiscences the old-timers share. These locals, their family names recorded on the headstones in the cemetery, connect us to the history of this place. They know what the village was and they accept what this place is becoming. As the present and the future become part of the ongoing story of this place, its beauty and sense of community encourages ever more people to make this little dot on the road their home. And the more people that come here, the more it changes, both socially and physically. In the past the houses were built near the roads which wind through small valleys; today barns and houses are often separated by the highway that paradoxically connects us. The valleys are somewhat protected from the wind that whips off the ocean. Houses nestle here, this is where this community began. Neighbours are close enough to watch, to be connected to, but with enough space around to feel rural. New people move here for different reasons, their vision of country life is very different from those who originally settled here. Moving from the city we imagine that life in the country will allow escape, quiet, vistas. Thus, our new neighbours forgo the road and build their houses on the top of the hills, their driveways are long, they watch the sun rise and set over the water. View and quiet take precedence over any awareness of the daily comings and goings of neighbours. So the landscape of this place changes. It loses its barns, its two-by-twos, and instead gains beacons on the ridge: houses of light overlooking the ocean, the road and all of those people below. Nonetheless, though the place changes, there is still some continuity – we all hear what is happening when we meet each other at the Country Store or share food at the Community Hall. We know, support and take pleasure in our neighbours. It is really only from the ocean, once the focus of this village, where you can see that this place was once on its own. For those whose hearts have been captured by its houses, its barns, its winding road, it still is. –
mir ia m ho landscape | m e m o ry by miriam ho
On Site review 27
When Anne Shirley arrives in the fictional village of Avonlea, her imagination takes possession of the landscape. ‘It would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you think?’ Anne greets her adoptive parent, Matthew, taking the elderly farmer on a romantic rereading of his hometown. ‘You could imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn’t you?’1 Where local residents recognise farmlands and woodlots, the little orphan girl beseechingly finds a verdant island of shining lakes and fragrant, canopied laneways at the place she hopes to call home. Anne, who has never belonged anywhere, draws upon cherished dreams to claim Green Gables as her new home; since Anne’s publication in 1908, tourists have likewise sought the Green Gables house in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island with an ecstatic sense of homecoming. Just as Anne imaginatively appropriates the world within the novel, her story also rewrites the real village of Cavendish into Avonlea. In Myth and Education, English poet Ted Hughes describes a story as a flexible construct that reconciles two disparate worlds by gathering concepts from each system. Hughes invokes Plato’s description of Greek culture, which mediates between heaven and
re adin g my th o lo gie s lan ds c ape ide n tific atio n n ar r ative
earth through mythology. He also discusses Freud’s analogy of the city of Rome as a palimpsest of fragmented monuments from various eras that can only be apprehended through a narrative, suspending and transcending material reality by imagination. The embedded theme of imagination in Anne of Green Gables informs the perception of Cavendish, both an actual landscape translated into fiction, and, in turn, recreated into reality. The inversion of fiction into reality at Green Gables simultaneously inverts private yearnings onto a cultural space of collective memory. L M Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables dreading her impending departure from Cavendish upon her grandmother’s death. Montgomery explicity states that she modelled Green Gables, not after the childhood home she was about to lose (which now lies in ruins in Cavendish), but on a neighbour’s farm. Often retreating into fiction to escape a dissatisfying reality, Montgomery avers that, although she wrote about real places in Cavendish, ‘doubtless many of my childhood experiences and dreams were worked up into [Anne]’s chapters’,2 suggesting that Avonlea is composed of spaces filtered through her own memory and longing.
m ir ia m ho
Avonlea is a place at the border of the real and fictional, the regional and the universal. —Irene Gammel, Making Avonlea
On Site review 27
and material world outside of the story that has been forcefully restructured in an ongoing effort to… make it better conform with the pre-existing representation it is trying to copy. 4 Fans come to Green Gables to share the same space where they imagine Anne once ‘lived’. Comments in the Green Gables guestbook indicate a foray into nostalgia and future hopes: one entry says – Today, I visited my childhood. Anne, my literary kindred spirit, is alive and well in Cavendish, conveying a fond suspension of disbelief in the fictional world; another declares – I also want to be a writer! 5 suggesting the confluence of the visitor’s own fiction, dreams and memories at Anne’s house. Through the ritual of literary tourism, Green Gables and its surroundings become a landscape constructed for dreaming. Critics attribute the popularity of Avonlea, not to the portrayal of a specific locale, but to its use of universal imagery. Writing in an era when Longfellow’s poem Evangeline brought tourism to Nova Scotia, scholar Janice Fiamenco likens Montgomery’s text to Victorian travel writing, which mythologises geographical features into familiar scenery.
Green Gables National Park, overlaid on the agrarian community of Cavendish in 1936, preserves the original farmstead of Green Gables and its environs. Initially repainted green to match the story, the modest farmhouse was later renovated extensively to simulate Anne’s world. In accord with Parks Canada’s redevelopment guidelines that ‘the surrouding landscape will be created... according to the interpretation of features described in the literary works’,3 the house and grounds are furnished with period artefacts recalling incidents from the story to evoke Anne’s presence. For scholar Alexander Macleod, the heritage monument creates new social spaces in Cavendish. Visitors to the Green Gables house negotiate the actual, historical and fictional, projecting their story onto the site, altering how it will be shaped. Like Baudrillard’s simulacrum, fictional Avonlea is no longer a copy of Cavendish, but precedes and determines the real world of Cavendish, both in the minds of visitors and in the physical environment: Montgomery’s text ... has left a secure and lasting impression on the landscape of Prince Edward Island, and it is the real, physical,
mi r i am ho
Montgomery paints Prince Edward Island as a garden sanctuary, a controlled, picturesque nature. Her characters are rarely subject to the hardships of the hostile wilderness, a salient theme found elsewhere in Canadian literature. Instead, Montgomery creates a protected world for Anne to grow up in. Seen through Montgomery and Anne’s beauty-loving eyes, Prince Edward Island is a scene of mesmerizing delight – a landscape of shifting light, colour and fragrance, reflective of Anne’s own vibrant spirit.
On Site review 27
These sentient landscapes, personifying the human spirit and its communion with nature, belong to a Romantic tradition where details are blurred to evoke a greater resonance with the cosmic world. In beholding a ‘rich landscape’, the poet Emerson writes that he ceases to distinguish particular elements, but feels ‘lost in a sense of tranquil unity’,6 perceiving the parts but discerning a unified whole. Emerson describes poetic creation as a synthetic process, reliant upon the plastic power of the human eye: ‘[the poet] unfixes land and sea, makes them revolve around the axis of his primary thought’, invoking fiction as that which establishes order. Using the Cavendish of her memories as a loose model,
Montgomery unfixes the landscape from its actual place to fabricate Avonlea, a suspended state at the ‘border of the real and fictional, the regional and universal’. The landscape of Avonlea, visually symbolic of Anne’s passionate personality, encourages the generations of readers that have come to Cavendish to connect with Anne through a transcendent encounter with the site’s natural beauty, echoing Anne’s own elation. –
1 Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables, chap. 2, Project Gutenberg edition, accessed November 25th, 2011, http://www.gutenberg.org/ files/45/45-h/45-h.htm 2 Montgomery, Lucy Maud. The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery vol. 1, ed. Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2004. p331 3 Gammel, Irene. “Introduction” in Making Avonlea. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002. p11 Green Gables, a popular tourist attraction in its thematic representation of a classic story, also shelters the memories and dreams of generations of readers who have loved Anne.
i n f r a s t ru c t u r e consequences by louis helbig
phot og r a phy hi st or y i nunda t i on sa c r i fi c e memo r y
the lost villages
The intersection of King’s Highway No. 2 and Aultsville Road, downtown Aultsville, Ontario. The outline of businesses and homes can clearly be seen along both sides of both roads. Originally established in 1787 by five disbanded soldiers from the King’s Royal Regiment Loyalists, the village was named after Samuel Ault, a descendant of one of the original five who sat in Canada’s first parliament in 1867. Of the 6,500 people displaced when the St Lawrence Seaway was flooded about 400 were from Aultsville.
On Site review 27
foundations of houses and barns, the subtle curves of roads, the shadows of bridges, the oval of a quarter-mile horse track, locks with gates closed or ajar, the outlines of entire towns. The beauty and solemnity of what is under the St Lawrence between Prescott and Cornwall is primordial, instinctual and universal. Rising water finds ample space in our creation myths: Noah’s Ark, Turtle Mountain or Atlantis. The sunken villages are equal to any narrative of annihilating flood anywhere real or imagined. On the route between Upper and Lower Canada, and between Canada and the United States, they were amongst some of Canada’s oldest European settlements. In New France, LaSalle built a fur trading post at the base of the Long Sault Rapids (which became Dickinson’s Landing), its cultural influence in the large Franco-Ontarian population in eastern Ontario. Loyalists settled here in the 1780s, in the War of 1812 local militia, allied with Mohawk warriors in support of the British, successfully defended themselves and a nascent Canadian identity against a much larger American force. Crysler’s Farm, the site of one of the most important battles and victories to define Canada’s modern existence, lies with the sunken villages, presided over by a ‘wandering’ official monument first erected in 1895 at the battlefield and then re-erected, in the late 1950s, on higher ground nowhere near it.
In the St Lawrence River lie the sunken villages – Maple Grove, Mille Roches, Moulinette, Sheek’s Island, Wales, Dickinson’s Landing, Santa Cruz, Woodlands, Farran’s Point and Aultsville. Sixty-five hundred people once lived in these places, now under a 50km stretch of water. They lived and loved, worked and played, were born and were buried; little different, in their time, than people in any other Canadian community. Little different, save for the misfortune to be near the mighty Long Sault Rapids, a significant barrier between the ocean and the Great Lakes. As part of the modern St Lawrence Seaway project, between 1954 and the 1958 explosion of a coffer-dam, broadcast on national radio on Dominion Day, the rapids were drained. All the small towns near the rapids were dismantled, sometimes moved in bits and pieces, trees cut down and the remainder burnt or bulldozed before the St Lawrence was flooded. The water rose over three days and nights, the inundation was absolute; the water murky and opaque covered all from sight, except in a few places where one could, and still can, wander knee-deep down old streets. I had known nothing of this until September 2009, when from my little airplane I saw the oddest thing: the familiar pattern of a house foundation in a most unfamiliar place, the blue-green water of the St Lawrence. Very real, and very surreal, scattered here and there under clear, aquamarine water were stark
Downtown Aultsville, N 44.57.15 W 75.01.42, Aultsville Ontario
Lock 25 Galop and Old Canals, N 44.50.32 W 75.18.25, Iroquois, Ontario, Canada
All images are from the Sunken Villages - Canada’s Atlantis in the St Lawrence River series.
The old and new locks of the Galop Canal, initially built in 1845 and then expanded and rebuilt in 1897 when, at 800 feet in length, they became the longest locks in Canada. This set of locks were replaced by Lock 7 of the St Lawrence Seaway. Iroquois itself was moved one mile to the north from its previous location adjacent to the river and the Galop Canal.
On Site review 27
It requires little counterfactual imagination to understand what the consequences of losing the Battle of Crysler’s Farm would have meant. Montreal would have been sacked, the tie between Upper and Lower Canada would have been severed and Canada, as we know it today, would likely not exist. Yet the site was summarily buried, shuffled into obscurity. For about as long as Europeans knew about the Great Lakes there were schemes to connect them with each other and the Atlantic. The Long Sault Rapids, through which the entire St Lawrence tumbled 30 feet over 3 miles, volumes greater than Niagara Falls, and Niagara itself, were the biggest barriers blocking these fresh water seas from their salt-water brethren. In the 1840s, and again in the 1890s, canals and locks were built to skirt the rapids and their permanent clouds of mist. Alas, each was obsolete before it was finished for none could keep pace with the increasing size of sea-going vessels. The Cornwall and Galop canals and locks lie in the company of the villages, some clearly visible, others too deep to see. Twentieth century plans to link the lakes with the St Lawrence were made and remade; on the Canadian side the project became an increasingly nationalistic one, a focus of institutional imperative, a manifestation of progress and modernity, a triumph
of man over nature, an awe-inspiring achievement that would, with utter certainly, generate boundless new industry, wealth and prosperity. The plan was a child of its time in an era enamoured of mega-projects – the Americans had their Tennessee Valley Authority and Hoover Dam, the Soviets were working on their Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature which eventually drained the Aral Sea. It was Canada’s turn in ‘Canada’s Century’ to create its own eighth wonder of the world. And a wonder it was. Thirty-five thousand acres of prime land were flooded. The project morphed to include three dams, the Iroquois, the Long Sault control dam and the larger MosesSaunders hydro dam between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York. Forty thousand men worked to complete the project in what today is an unimaginable four years. It cost an unheard of billion dollars. Postage stamps were issued, textbooks printed throughout the Commonwealth to teach children about this achievement, newspapers and radio reported breathlessly, and a young and beautiful Queen Elizabeth officially opened it with President Eisenhower in 1959. Being Canadian and bi-national, the project spawned a plethora of official institutions – a Seaway commission, a bridge corporation, a parks commission, a power generation authority,
As the local chapters of the seductive Canadian narrative have dissolved with time, so to have the national chapters. None have ended as anticipated. The Seaway never achieved what was envisioned of it. Following the precedent set by the earlier canals and locks of obsolescence by technological change, the Seaway cannot handle the massive container ships that now carry much of the world’s commerce. Its tonnage peaked well shy of its intended capacity in the 1970s and has declined, more or less, ever since. Only the Moses-Saunders dam and its hydro-generation station have lived up to its promise, generating about 3% of Ontario’s electrical power, albeit little of that consumed locally. The narrative of progress and industrial prosperity explains the impetus behind the construction of the Seaway. The hoped-for ending – that Shangri-La of endless jobs and wealth – is so crucial to that story that it still seems impossible at an official level to admit that what was hoped for and promised was largely not achieved. That the people of the Sunken Villages paid the highest price is even more inconvenient. It is a circular story: unable to reconcile its inconsistencies for doing so undermines its initial premise, the inconsistencies are glossed over, and the truth and anything we might learn from this story is largely discarded. We are left to other devices to understand the continued relevance, meaning and importance of the sunken villages – universal myths of destruction and creation might provide a more satisfactory insight into the project and the Villages than the official record. However, the official record is not the only record and universal mythology not the only credible touchstone. There are thousands of personal stories; intimate personal accounts, first, second or even third-person, alive within living memory or already transmitted across one or even two generations. Pay attention to these, listen and learn, and the curtain rises on a drama, as real, contradictory, nuanced and meaningful as anywhere; indeed, perhaps more meaningful than most. The very finality of the inundation, gives the stories a twist, a particular time, a particular event, a clear before and after by which to understand what was and what, since July 1, 1958, now is. Personal stories are more than simple animation, the colouring-in of 1950s black and white photos of streets, rows of trees, locks and farms. The stories are rarely sentimental; there is nothing of the saccharine gauze through which present culture commonly peers back into the past. Though there is anger, which certainly shreds sentiment, the real antidote to shallow sentiment and its cohorts of superficiality and half-truth is just how real, unflinching, human and universal memories are. There is a lot to learn here.
On Site review 27
all of which linger on under one name or another. Dams, locks, entire new towns were invented. Ingleside and Long Sault, the epitome of modern planning and design, were built to absorb the displaced of the villages. Iroquois was entirely uprooted, moved and rebuilt, as was one third of Morrisburg. The best-known institution is Upper Canada Village, prominent, publicly funded, where re-enactors celebrate the mid-nineteenth century in period costume by tending chickens, pigs and gardens and populating old houses and barns salvaged during Seaway construction. Next to Upper Canada Village a commemoration of the lost villages, a sequence of low-slung brick walls with embedded gravestones removed from the villages, gets scant attention. The forgetting might lie, in good part, with how the institutions spawned by the Seaway treat the sunken villages. The villages have visually reappeared thanks to an unintended consequence of the project, the incredible filtering capacity of invasive zebra mussels. With their reappearance, it becomes clear just how much the story of the villages and their inhabitants has also been filtered, selectively, in support of an official record. Whenever the sunken villages are mentioned on the occasional official placard, they are cast in the supporting role of a glorious, grand narrative of industrial progress and enlightened public policy. Two examples jump out: we see photographs of houses perched on house moving machines from New Jersey; the accompanying captions tell how these were moved, with great public approval, without so much as disturbing the crockery in the cupboards – nothing about the people in them or the community left behind. The second example is of houses being deliberately set on fire, but this too was okay – these acts were instrumental in the study and perfection of smoke alarms that now serve the public good. One senses a palpable unease, maybe even guilt, about the villages, that they do not quite fit, even 50 years later, with what is institutionalised, official and publiclyfunded. Some people were, most certainly, upset by the destruction of their homes, communities, livelihoods and landscape, but seen from today’s perspective, it is remarkable how little resistance there was. It was a heady time. Local businesses and community organisations called themselves – and still do – Seaway this or that, and the whole area is now known as the Seaway Valley. The sense of loss was, it appears, salved by a combination of being part of some larger national purpose, the promise of industrial development, wealth and employment, and individual material benefits such as new housing. Social pressure to accept this was immense. Local prosperity never arrived, local promises were never fulfilled. Cornwall never became the industrial centre once considered inevitable. Today, the only industrial reality, adjacent to the old Cornwall Canal, is a vacant area where a Domtar pulp mill and a C-I-L chemical plant once stood. Iroquois, once slated to become one of Canada’s textile manufacturing centres, had its small Dominion Textile plant close in the 1990s.
King’s Highway No. 2, N 44.58.59 W 74.59.11, Woodlands, Ontario, Canada A submerged highway running through the hamlet of Woodlands. Founded in 1784 by German-speaking Loyalists from New York it had a population of about 70 people and was known, in the 1950s, for the cottages that lined the road adjacent to the then bank of the St Lawrence River.
On Site review 27
Peering across Canada’s history and geography, the narrative of endless prosperity and boundless opportunity that justified the Seaway project is perhaps the only single consistent story Canada has about itself. The cod of the Grand Banks in 1500s, the fur trade run largely by the Hudson’s Bay Company through royal charter, the gold rushes of the Cariboo, the Klondike and northern Ontario, the logging of ‘endless’ forests of pine, spruce, and fir in eastern and, then, western Canada, and now the rush on the ‘world’s largest’ petrochemical reserves in northern Alberta – each is a variation on the same theme, which arrives each time with fresh, contemporary promises of forever and ever. Each project begins anew and must, by its logic of endless growth and prosperity, ignore all previous booms, for these have always been followed by busts – if not complete collapse, and shattered promises. It might be a little too easy with the perspective of hindsight to simply judge what was done in the 1950s with the Seaway as wrong, but by the standards of the time officials were probably acting in good conscience. Consider the almost concurrent Alcan project in northwestern BC: here authorities told the Cheslatta people a few weeks before the flooding of the Nechako River for a reservoir that they were going to need to move. Coffins
and human remains floated on the surface for years. Where the failure largely resides is not in previous actions or mistakes, but in not being prepared to acknowledge, re-examine and ask hard questions about these past actions. Canada’s record suggests we appear to be doomed to be a-historical, to forever be captive to our peculiarly Canadian myth of boom but no-bust, never to learn from our past experience and mistakes. If the two hundred years since the War of 1812 have dimmed our understanding of the relevance of the Battle of Crysler’s Farm, we do have, well within living memory, the personal stories, experiences, opinions and feelings from these drowned small towns – the best conduit to whatever truths can be gleaned from the experience of the Seaway project. Making an effort to understand this is to make an effort to understand ourselves; to ignore this is something that we as a country do at our own peril. –
CNR and Highway No2, N 44.55.39 W 75.07.63, Riverside Heights, Ontario, Canada Highway 2, the Canadian National Railway and a level crossing road, perpendicular to both, outline where there were once fields, buildings and large deciduous trees the stumps of which can still be seen. This area is just off the shore of the Riverside Cedar Campground, part of the St Lawrence Parks Commission network of parks and public facilities along the shoreline affected by the flooding.
stories A 14 year-old whose grandparents owned a dry-goods store in Farran’s Point and whose mother was born near Wales, wrote a poem in 1958 about his conflicted feelings. The first four stanzas are a heartfelt ode to what was lost, the last two (skipping to another track on a much different LP) justify it as a celebration of progress and industry. When he sent me his poem, he explained that those last stanzas squeezed his feelings into a mould of what he thought he should feel or say in light of the project’s progress and modernity. The social pressure was immense. A sailor from Mille Roches passed through his home area after almost a year away, one of the first to traverse the Seaway. The captain called him to the bridge, half jokingly asking him to navigate because he knew the area. Staring out from that bridge across an expanse of unfamiliar water in a familiar place, the distant look in his eyes 50 years later takes the listener right to that bridge and all its emotion. That same sailor remarks just how gorgeous those girls sitting in a row-boat at Farran’s Point Lock, staring back from a black and white photo, are, as though it were yesterday not 1955.
Polite ladies, young like everyone once was, but without the backyards, fields and streets of childhood that most everyone else can return to. Frustration, even anger, seeps out between mild words about the living museum, Upper Canada Village – with a fence and an admission fee around buildings salvaged from the flood, only there because of the flood but celebrating the 1850s or the 1500s, but never their 1950s. Upper Canada Village advertises ‘two [mediæval and nineteenth century] historic and entertaining experiences for the price of one!!’ The third one, the sunken villages, is not mentioned. A boy from Moulinette listens to authorities explain to his parents a difficult choice: to have their parents, the boy’s grandparents, exhumed to a new cemetery or left to lie where they are. They’re still there; others are not. Riding his bicycle on the road past those graveyards, sheets appeared around some graves, and, thus shrouded, gravediggers proceeded in reverse of their normal order. Their jobs done, the churches levelled, the headstones removed and then one last act of permanence, the dumping of rock and rubble on those graveyards so no coffin or remains could ever emerge again.
An aerial reconnaissance pilot flying a re-purposed Lancaster bomber photographed, officially and systematically, the incremental change to the landscape. One can well imagine the slow motion dismantling of the landscape and, then, its sudden disappearance. In the story, relayed by the son, his father was asked by those assembling an official record which were the best, most dramatic images of the project. His reply – the dismemberment and moving of Iroquois a mile or two north – dismissed as ‘not real’.
A diver, leading tours or just diving with his buddies, lets the current of the St Lawrence guide him along King’s Highway 2 through villages, past bridges and driveways and the foundations of farm houses. ‘It’s like they’re still there’, he says. Everything is encrusted by zebra mussel shells, ready to cut those who are not careful. He reports that the water is beginning to become murky again as the result of yet another invasive species, the Round Goby, feeding on zebra mussels.
On Site review 27
On Site review 27
he a t he r a s quit h
land | s ys t e m s o f m e a s u r e m e n t b y h e at h e r a s q u i t h
i mmi g r a t i o n a g r i c ul t ure rec l a ma t i o n l a nd di v i si o n i nfr a st r uc t ure
Approximately one hour north of the city of Toronto lies the Holland Marsh. Situated in the valley of the Holland River, this naturally occurring marsh has been drained of its surface water to uncover fertile farmland below. Feats of engineering keep the land just above the water table by an intricate set of ditches, canals and dykes. What is left after the water is drained away is some of the most productive farmland in southern Ontario. The dark, rich soil has become an intensive agricultural area growing crops such as onions, carrots, celery, lettuce and other vegetables.
In the early 1900’s, agricultural and drainage specialists designed the land reclamation scheme. The plan divided the marsh into five-acre plots for market gardening, with the intent to attract farming families from Holland and Belgium, skilled in the practices of farming reclaimed land. With a proposed density of approximately 1500 families, the initial intent by planners was a farming ‘company town’. The intent was that the farms would feed Toronto and other neighbouring town centres.
On Site review 27
The engineering is extensive. A perimeter canal has been dredged around the marsh’s natural edge. A dam has been constructed at the north end where the canals meet the Upper Holland River’s natural river course. This prevents flooding during high water levels in Lake Simcoe. Water from the farmlands inside the perimeter canals is pumped into the contained river creating a natural reservoir. The excess drainage water is pumped from the river over the dam in order maintain an appropriate water table. The linear crop plots create a tapestry of colour from aerial view. What becomes evident from above is an organised ‘grid’ contained within the topographic contour that defines the original marsh perimeter.
This example of rural urbanism emerged from a civil engineering scheme. Benefits to this scheme were twofold: draining the marsh would produce some lucrative farmland and it would also solve a traffic problem. The marsh presented a transportation barrier between neighbouring municipalities, but also an obstruction to a north/south route to northern Ontario on the west side of Lake Simcoe. Drainage of the marsh made way for what is now highway 400, a major transportation route.
he a t he r a s quit h
Holland Marsh: roads
farm plots and settlement patterns
The five-acre plot, laid out on the reclaimed land in organised plots defined by drainage canals, provided a framework for settlement. The module was a manageable size for a single family to farm. Roads were built along the canals and provided an instant transportation network. Houses nestled themselves directly on the five acre plot perched like small islands in the mucky soil. An urban fabric emerged on entirely new land.
#1 982-R1 65 - 2 6 - 1 8 1 - To r o n to - Gu e lph pr o je c t [1 982] ( Archi ves of O n t a r io, RG 1- 6 2 8 - 1 )
On Site review 27
Settled mainly by Dutch immigrants, the settlement created a community of farmers that lived within the marsh boundaries, dependant on one another to maintain a water level for their home and livelihood. A small town centre developed, Ansnorveldt, complete with school, church and small main street. The family owned plots were successful farming models and persisted for years. They endured Hurricane Hazel in 1954 that flooded the entire marsh. This event sparked a more organised drainage association, and today the marsh is governed by the Holland Marsh Drainage System Joint Municipal Services board that continues improvements to protect the marsh against flooding, and addresses environmental issues with respect to the marsh and its affects on the surrounding watershed. The density of these individually owned, small-scale market gardens that established the marsh as a community has proven a challenging model in todayâ€™s food distribution system. Over time, the original five acre plots began to merge to give way to larger farms. Supermarket demand for large scale supply meant farmers needed to supply larger volumes to compete. Although within close proximity to a large city centre, a large percentage of its produce is now sold to more widespread markets. A farming powerhouse this close to the city centre could feed its inhabitants, but like so many communities founded on resource extraction the product is an exported commodity.
Yet as we begin to see the shift to more demand for locally grown food, things appear to be changing again. Promotion of local Holland Marsh farmers is evident at farmers markets in cities and larger towns. A wider variety of produce is now being grown to support the tastes of a more diverse population. The desire to connect the produce to the farmer that grew it may help us see what can be achieved if we use what we grow in our city’s backyard. What if we could pair a five-acre plot with a city block? This arrangement would satisfy the consumer with food grown less than an hour away and provide the farmer with a reliable market. Knowing the farm and the farmer that provided the produce is a tangible connection and a smaller economy such as this could provide a better and more sustainable model for local food distribution. We are losing real ties to the places our resources come from. Fundamentally, we still look for those connections to the rural and food is a prime example. As more and more of southern Ontario’s farmland is consumed to make way for irresponsible, low density urban development and sprawl, we should take note of this engineered landscape, one that did quite the inverse. The grand civil engineering scheme provided the framework, but it may have been the five-acre plot that was its real success. Perhaps it deserves another look. – 31
he a t he r a s quit e
On Site review 27
Holland Marsh Growers’ Association. http://www.hollandmarshgold.com/ farmers W H Day. Reclamation of Holland Marsh. Canadian Engineer, January 1927 Holland Marsh Drainage System Joint Services Board. http://www. hollandmarsh.org/ Holland Marsh Agricultural Impact Study, Planscape Incorporated and Regional Analytics, 2010. (The tenth installment in the Occasional Paper Series in Greenbelt Research presented by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation) http://greenbelt.ca/research/greenbelt-research/holland-marshagricultural-impact-study
c o m pa n y tow n s | architectural brands b y v í c to r m u ñ o z s a n z
in the image and likeness
sy st ems c l i ma t e effi c i enc y moder ni t y so c i a l i sm
Batawa: notes on an exported blueprint in southern Ontario Antecedents
In January 2012 I visited Batawa for research funded by the Druker Traveling Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design that will take me to the world-wide network of Bata Shoe Company satellite towns. These are some brief traveller’s notes of the first visit to the Canadian site of a globally reproduced blueprint.
Three elevational hierarchies
The original Batawa factory in late 1939 v ict o r m uno z s a nz
On Site review 27
From 1904 to 1919, Tomas Bat’a, a shoe manufacturer in Czechoslovakia, worked in Lynn, Massachusetts, shoe centre of the United States, learning about modern methods of production. When he returned to Europe, the hybridisation of systems of scientific management absorbed in America with a socialist vision gave rise to an empire that became a field of spatial experimentation. New organisational ideas tackled problems such as industrial chaos, declining productivity and housing shortage. The functionality of modernism and urban planning projects were used as a tool for more efficient working and living conditions. Over the next thirty years, under the superbly-planned Bat’a system of management, the company grew to be a huge complex of comprehensive worldwide operations. It followed a strategy of decentralisation: capital, technology and expertise were exported to other industrialised countries, and to nations in early stages of development. The system that had been experimentally developed in Tomas Bat’a’s hometown, Zlin, was intensively replicated in satellite cities all over the world, building a network of production that used the agency of modern planning and design as means of both production and the communication of a image of modernity. The nazi occupation of Zlin during World War II broke the system, and its heir immigrated to Canada to rebuild the empire from the new world. The company bought a well-connected piece of land in southern Ontario; building the town that was to replace Zlin as the Bat’a capital, Batawa.
1. Batawa sits on a plain by the Trent River surrounded by forested hills, with an elevation change that ranges from 100 to 180 metres. Workers’ housing is in the flat area, as are the schools, churches, the community center and other public amenities. The factory stands also there, adjacent to the highway that parallels the omnipresent river. On the hillside on the southern edge of the town, the managers’ housing sits slightly higher than the workers’ bungalows. On top of the hill to the north stand the director’s house and Thomas Bata’s private home, looking magnificently over Batawa. 2. Water was pumped from the river directly to up to a water tower in the roof of the factory – water is a fundamental element in shoe production; its management was centralised and its use regulated according to the demands of the factory. After the factory took its share, water was conducted to a treatment plant near the building and then piped to the individual households. 3. The greatest elevational escape came from within the community of factory workers looking for recreation. A group of volunteers cleared part of a hill right behind the managers’ housing overlooking the town, and installed a primitive tow rope that transformed it into a ski hill. The hard work and determination of these people was an act of true community building that went beyond the life of factory and that today is the main attraction, social centre and economic engine of Batawa.
Serge and Shirley
v ict o r m uno z s a nz
The Bata factory was built in the image of the other Bata factories in Europe – according to Czech blueprints, by Czech workers and with Czech machinery – the first of a series of factories that would make a new Zlin in this remote land. The five-storey building was as exotic as extraordinary in its context. It was built according to a modular construction system developed by Czech architect Gahura and the engineer Sehdal, inspired and supported by Tomas Bata’s admiration of American industrial architecture, pragmatic and efficient. Huge clear glass windows allowed maximum transparency, sunlight and visual connection with the natural environment. However, as desirable this was, it was also problematic in terms of thermal efficiency and operating costs for the company in the Canadian winter. Windows were downsized by wrapping the building with an insulating white aluminum panel system; the original brick parapets and windows remain under that skin. The Batawa Development Corporation plans to keep the building, un-used since 1999, as an icon of new development, converting it to a mixed-use condominium building, restoring it to its original architecture with the promise that another global trend, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) brand will return it to the dream of sustainability and efficiency. –
On Site review 27
Special thanks to Emanuele Lepri and Suzanne McLean in the Bata Shoe Museum; Heather Candler and Jeff Leavitt in the Batawa Development Corporation; Darren Lobb in the Batawa Ski Hill; Serge and Shirley Folsch in Batawa; Brian Gibbs, Libuse Peichl and Sonja Bata in the Bata Shoe Organisation.
Serge came to Batawa from Hellocourt, France, a name that might not mean too much unless we mention that it is also known as Bataville. Serge had worked for Bata since he was fifteen. When his superiors discovered his artistic inclinations, he was trained in the design of shoes, but also of machinery for production. He offered to go abroad and work in the brand new factory in Canada for three years. There he met his wife Shirley. As Batawa was built during the war, the company had not enough resources to build the modern serial brick houses that characterise all the other the Bata towns since Zlin. By shifting production to warfare materials for the allies, Bata managed to maintain operations and to apply to a Canadian government program of wartime housing to supply houses for his workers. Serge and Shirley lived in one of those houses for eleven years, with a monthly rent of eleven dollars. When finally prosperity came to Batawa, workers began to move from the company town to other surrounding areas in search of better housing. At that point, the company offered the workers larger plots – amalgamating two of the existing lots – to build their own houses. Serge and Shirley bought one of these cheap pieces of land from Bata, and designed and built their own house. It was convenient to live there: the company supplied all the utilities, the community feeling was strong, and work was within walking distance. Serge and Shirley have been living in Batawa ever since.
fa r m h o u s e s | suburbia b y da n a s e g u i n + c h r i s to p h e r k at s a rov l u n a
heritage village an embedded collective memory On the northern border of Toronto, the Town of Markham is often qualified as a suburb. Driving through Markham is a standard edge city trek – bursts of development along major arterial roads are collections of residential façades emulating grander, more palatial architectural feats from throughout history. In-between are postmodern clock towers indicating hubs of low density commercial activity surrounded by vast pastures of free parking. Along with Markham’s conventional, rapidly-developed, twentieth-century streetscape, is a robust heritage planning policy that enables a peculiar integration of what was once rural into what is hoping to be urban. One autumn afternoon by grace of an earnestly invested tour guide, a community called Markham Heritage Estates was introduced to my Markham-scape. Set back from 16th Line is a subdivision, Markham Heritage Estates is made up of transplanted hundred-year-old houses from former farmlands surrounding Markham, set in a careful framework that makes this subdivision an anomaly. Softly curving routes tour the visitor through wide parcels that spill onto the sidewalk-less street. Houses that once stood in solitude on rural properties vastly separated from adjacent properties now face the street as unlikely neighbours. They share the collective memory of a land made up of large private holdings, with a sigh of relief that their community still validates a particular moment of rural Canadian history.
On Site review 27
Despite having been corralled into this subdivision, these houses have been carefully curated on their sites and together can now function as a rural heritage museum. Each house photographed perfectly on its own; no neighbour was too close and no element of landscaping betrayed the new density. A Heritage Estates tour guide told us how the site had been used in television commercials and how great it was that these homes look so authentic -they were an ideal backdrop! As someone who grew up in rural Canada, the difference between houses that are comfortable being seen from all sides versus those who present only street facades (in veneers) is a major distinction between rural and urban vernacular. Purpose and pragmatism play into site planning in a rural context and there is nothing innately rural about a subdivision composition – regardless of the style of the houses in it.
chr is t o p he r ka t s a rov luna
This instance of rural urbanism is bizarre but fascinating. I suggest a visit around 3:30pm when gigantic SUVs glide through the ‘hood returning blonde children home from school and some of the heritage-inspired interiors begin to illuminate. –
c h r i s t o p h e r katsar ov lu n a
i n f r a s t ru c t u r e | pat t e r n s o f c a p i ta l b y k e n n e t h h ay e s
On Site review 27
Sudbury’s harsh beginnings are indelibly stamped into the city, its communities and the landscape. Many profound changes have occurred in Sudbury’s culture in the last two or three decades and its economy has been transformed, but the effects of its past remain. Many industrial towns gentrify by simply transforming the local mill into a tourist site or, increasingly, loft condominiums, but Sudbury cannot change its face so easily. For better or worse, cultural amnesia is not an option here. Mining linked Sudbury’s fate to resource extraction, and thus to capitalism in its most direct form. In his role as an industrial safety inspector for the Habsburg Empire, Franz Kafka identified mining and metallurgy as the ‘primary large-scale enterprises of the pre-mechanical era’. Sinking shafts into the earth to access bodies of ore requires so much capital that mining led the emergence of capitalism from the guilds and restricted economies of the Middle Ages; many an early Renaissance fortune was built on the joint foundations of mining and banking, and resource extraction was often the motive for exploration of the New World. Sudbury’s development displays some of these features in their later, more advanced forms. The I in Inco’s name proclaimed the venture international, but the dominant company in the exploitation of Sudbury’s ore reserves was essentially American. Inco may nominally have been based in Toronto, but Canada’s role in this relationship was at best that of junior partner in a kind of corporate suzerainty. Falconbridge, the newer and smaller corporation in Sudbury, generally enjoyed a better reputation than Inco, but it was not that different. In fact, the rivalry between Inco and Falconbridge over the course of the twentieth century often had the unreal air of a duopoly – the minimum diversity required to maintain the appearance of open competition while colluding for the same ends. In the last decade, Inco and Falconbridge were purchased, respectively, by the giant mining corporations Vale, from Brazil, and Xstrata, from Switzerland. This situation is still regarded (not without some degree of xenophobia) as abnormal, but the truth is that Sudbury has never really ruled itself. Understandably, diversification has been Sudbury’s cultural and economic mandate in recent decades. Fuelled by Northern Ontario’s long-standing regionalist grievances, the city went through a phase of public investment that resulted in the Taxation Data Centre, Science North and improved health-care and educational facilities, but there are now signs that vigorous private initiative is developing outside the thrall of the mines, and doing so in Sudbury’s own inimitable way. The usual process of industrial formation starts with small workshops and, by a process of consolidation, arrives at big industrial enterprises.
min in g in f r as tr u c tu re te c h n o lo gy th e c an adian s h ie ld o ppo r tu n itie s
This essay continues from On Site 26: DIRT, in which it was explained that the Sudbury Basin, so rich in nickel and other exotic minerals, was formed 1.6 billion years ago when a massive asteroid hit the earth, splashing molten lava from the earth’s core throughout the region of the Great Lakes, northern Ontario and the northern States. In Sudbury, manufacturing has followed a different course. Its impetus – the movement by the major mining corporations to outsource services, which provided the initial contracts with which to establish small businesses – came late. But in order for these mining-service companies to grow and to survive the effects of periodic strikes, they needed to cultivate new markets and therefore sought either to diversify or to specialise. More than four hundred new businesses have thus developed in Sudbury in the last few decades. These new ventures have had a stabilising effect on the local economy and have greatly increased local industrial-design and engineering capacities. There has, however, been a lag in conceptually assimilating this new phenomenon. The established image of the city is still one of rugged, hardrock mining and labour conflict, while the new reality is one of progressive investment in high-tech manufacturing and services, designed to circulate globally along the distinct trade lines established by mining. Mining’s unique spatial network is tied to places usually far removed from the centres of global finance. In Sudbury, one meets specialised workers, from diamond drillers to geo-tech surveyors, who have worked in such diverse places as Kazakhstan, Chile, Norway, Indonesia, Sardinia, Utah, Micronesia and the Dominican Republic. This, obviously, is not the list of finance, software and biotech cities canonised by urban theorists such as Saskia Sassen and Richard Florida. But minerals have their own map, and mining fosters what could be called geo-cosmopolitanism, a network governed by the wealth underground and only secondarily concerned with problems of access and distribution. Sudbury’s distinct form of globalisation uses distribution channels established in the era when production dominated distribution as an economic concern. Although an improvement over the haywire approach, the geo-cosmopolitan sensibility does not necessarily possess the positive cultural attributes of other forms of cosmopolitanism, and it certainly does not correspond to urban sophistication. Instead, it is predicated on an intense local identity, often at odds with political reality. Nevertheless, it would be unthinkable for a city of Sudbury’s scale and level of development to exist at most mining sites. Traditionally, mining companies were forced to be self-reliant to a remarkable degree, but because Sudbury was initially founded as a logging town at the junction of two railway lines, it was from the start more accessible than most mining towns. This is the key to the city’s continued growth and current relative prosperity. Its permanence testifies to the extraordinary size of the mineral reserves here, but it is transportation that sustains the place. Sudbury is the rare case of a mining camp outliving the resources on which it was founded to become a city with its own internal dynamic.
Now that the city is emerging from the grip of mining, it is tempting to consider nickel Sudbury’s damnosa hereditas –the boon that eventually reveals itself as blight. For all the deficiency of its urban culture, Sudbury is graced with an unusually welldeveloped urban core. Though small, in part because half of the available contiguous area is occupied with rail yards, the core has a full matrix of streets and lanes, making it a significantly more advanced urban form than such main-street towns as Kitchener or Waterloo. Ultimately, however, the limits of Sudbury’s initial townsite led to the construction of New Sudbury after World War II and the resulting bifurcation of the city. A similar process is presently underway with the development of the South End, rendering the city ever more dispersed. Finding sufficient suitable land on which to build is a constant quest. The constraints on land available for development are, in part, the result of a peculiar and complex legislative history, but primarily are a result of the landscape which really provides no adequate place on which to build a city. Sudbury’s builders have always faced the Scylla of steep, rocky hills and the Charybdis of swamps and muskeg. Though poorly drained, the sparse areas of flat land took little effort to clear and thus developed as the city’s earliest neighbourhoods. The wealthy and powerful, however, favoured living on the shores of Sudbury’s lakes, even if it meant building private roads or locating on the city’s hilltops. In Sudbury, topography corresponds quite closely to class, but lately
the ‘Mansion on the Hill’ about which Bruce Springsteen sang so plaintively has become a mass phenomenon. Several conventional suburban neighbourhoods have been recently blasted into the top of rocky hills – a case of local skills facilitating a normative vision of dwelling that is at odds with the facts of the ground and far from any contemporary vision of ecological harmony. The city has numerous features that defy all expectations of both urban and natural form. Maki Avenue, an elite residential street, is a fascinating example of the confusion of nature and culture in Sudbury; built on a peninsula that extends almost a kilometre into Lake Nehpawan, it appears to be a perfectly ordinary suburban street, except that every house on both sides overlooks water. The Kingsway, where the banal melds with the fantastic, is another example. At first glance, it appears to be an absolutely typical North American commercial strip, more or less level and straight, and lined with fast-food restaurants and strip malls. Yet just behind the parking lots are walls of rock carved out by blasting. Car dealerships cluster in this channel of partly natural, partly fabricated space, defying their usual association with wide-open lots at the edge of town. Recently, a district of big-box retail stores was built on a stone plateau where Barry Downe Road intersects the Kingsway, demonstrating the power of new retail models to overcome the most forbidding technical impediments.
On Site review 27
Just beyond the parking lots of the New Sudbury Centre, trucks that transport ore and slurry rumble down Lasalle Blvd. - New Sudbury’s only through road. The ore trucks, which in the early eighties replaced a system of rail transport, put an immense physical burden on the street, but the Ontario Mining Act prevents the City of Greater Sudbury from levying against them the fee of 7.5 cents per tonne applied to aggregate moved over provincial roads. Plans have existed since at least 1992 to divert the truck traffic by extending the next rural road to the north, Maley Drive, but the city’s funds are tied up in maintaining the overworked boulevard. Transport fees could pay for the new road, and all would benefit. Rather than continuing to relying on mining companies and accepting that the agenda they set, Sudbury’s way forward may be through a form of decoupling. By detaching its interests from those of the mining companies, the city stands to gain greater control over its own affairs. Recently, two mining companies agreed, for the first time, to pay some of the cost of upgrading regional roads for their use, suggesting that a new solution to these structural problems might be emerging.
Decoupling Consumption and Production in New Sudbury: The scarcity of buildable land in Sudbury’s downtown, compounded by rapid urban growth after World War Two, lead to the development of a ‘New’ Sudbury about 5 km northeast of the original settlement, at the intersection of Lasalle Blvd. and Barry Downe Road (the border between two former family farms, the Barrys and the Downes). This district is anchored by the New Sudbury Centre, a shopping mall that opened in 1957. Founded initially as a strip mall by busline operator-turned-developer Paul Desmarais Sr., New Sudbury Centre was acquired, expanded, and enclosed about a decade later by Robert Campeau, who was to become the largest retail shopping developer in Canadian history. In 2005, responding once again to market demands, the mall was further restructured. Wal-Mart, Future Shop and other chain stores were spun off as freestanding buildings in the site’s vast parking lots.
On Site review 27
Sudbury’s oddities are also manifest at a regional level. A unique spatial macro-form developed out of the crater’s shape and size. Instead of the concentric pattern that many cities assume, Sudbury acquired a series of satellite settlements located at or near the site of bodies of ore on the Nickel Irruptive. This elliptical ring of towns relies on Sudbury for social services and entertainment, but instead of turning to the city’s centre in a more typical North American pattern, many workers move outward from dormitory communities built just inside the valley, to the mine sites. Sudbury proper is not in a physical sense the centre of this system as it too is located on the peripheral ring. This unusual structure, which has created a powerful dialectic between the city and the valley, has had numerous consequences for the social and even political order of the city. The outlying communities feel a stronger independence than is usual in suburbs, but to govern these towns effectively, Sudbury was first established as a regional municipality in 1973 and then in 2001 all of the towns were amalgamated into the City of Greater Sudbury. This political manoeuvre has by no means resolved the opposition between the two forces. It might seem that Sudbury dwells in the past, but that is not the case at all. Northern Ontario is fundamentally modern, as seen in Thomas Alva Edison’s brief involvement in developing the mines, in the presence of Science North (which looks rather like a UFO or a lunar landing module) and most recently in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNOLAB), right. SNOLAB is one of the city’s many invisible presences. Although only a few hundred people have ever been inside, it holds a special place in the collective imagination of Sudburians. The curious inversion of an observatory located deep underground, mirrors the inversion of a detector for evanescent neutrinos located at the site of a massive meteorite’s impact. Sudbury abounds in signs and traces of its extraterrestrial origins, from the nickel itself, a metal commonly found on meteorites, to shatter cones produced in the rock by the force of the collision, to traces of the exotic fullerene. The Onaping Formation, a black tuff on the northern edge of the irruptive, was the first confirmed deposit of naturally occurring fullerene, a form of carbon discovered only in 1985. These carbon molecules, which feature sixty or seventy atoms arranged in a sphere, may have been present in that form on the meteorite or they may have been synthesised on impact; no one knows exactly how they were preserved for nearly two billion years. Even more recently, it has been discovered that these spherical molecules, like miniature icosahedral prisons, contain astral gases. Asteroids are known to sometimes contain amino acids, which has led some to speculate that collisions with asteroids may have seeded the earth with the chemicals necessary to initiate life or may even have brought life itself to earth. Later impacts caused death and destruction, but the Sudbury impact occurred near the time of the origins of life on earth. It makes perfect sense that the geodesic sphere of the SNOLAB, located deep in the earth, replicates the structure of fullerene, and that scientists search for minute cosmic particles in the aftermath of the immense meteorite that shaped Sudbury, for it is a place where telluric forces are felt with particular intensity, and where their connection to the astral plane is also evident. The heavens and the underworld seem to meet here, and the infernal patina on
the rock sometimes makes it look as if the darkness in the depths of the mines has crept out into broad daylight. Nickel was named after the devil himself, so it is not surprising the air in Sudbury still carries a whiff of brimstone. Surely it must have occurred to some watching the flow of molten slag that they were witnessing the biblical lake of fire, as if the landscape was not the result of our doing but a sign of some otherworldly wrath – retribution, no doubt, for our transgression against nature or the price of unloosing so many weapons on the world. Life in this northern town has an eschatological quality that is both immediate and impossibly remote, as if one lives at ground zero two billion years after Armageddon. In Sudbury, it may look like the end is near, but it feels familiar, like it’s been here before. –
The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory is an experimental physics laboratory located at the 6800 foot level of Creighton Mine, one of the oldest and deepest mines in Sudbury. The laboratory was inaugurated with the experiment seen under construction in this 1996 photograph by Steven Evans. The aptly named ‘SNOdome’ was a 12m diameter sphere made of acrylic and stainless steel. Designed and fabricated in California using aerospace industry techniques, it was shipped to Sudbury in pieces, transported underground, and reassembled. The giant vessel contained 1000 tonnes of heavy water (worth approximately a billion dollars) loaned by Atomic Energy Canada. Suspended in a 10-storey tall cavern flooded with conventional water and surrounded by a 17m diameter geodesic sphere bearing 9,456 photomultiplier tubes, the observatory relied on the deep mantle of solid rock to filter out random cosmic particles and reveal neutrinos alone. The experiment, which concluded in 2006, tracked about ten neutrinos a day, confirming the arrival of the expected number of neutrinos, but showed conclusively that they change in type after departing the sun. When the instrument was decomissioned, its materials were reused in some of the many subsequent large-scale and long-term experiments being conducted at the site.
This essay originally appeared in Sudbury. Life in a Northern Town, published by Musagetes and Laurentian Architecture, 2011
The Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship supports artists during a period of research in the vast Smithsonian archives. When invited for this fellowship, I decided to pursue research on the architecture of the Hirshhorn Museum of Art, designed by Gordon Bunshaft and opened to the public on Washington’s National Mall in 1974. The museum building drew me in with its audacity. Although it fits logically into the oeuvre of Bunshaft – at that time he was exploring the new forms made possible by advances in building technology i n f r a s t ru c t u r e | c o m pa n y tow n s b y t e r e n c e g ow e r
(especially pre-stressed concrete spans and cantilevers) – the building’s floating concrete cylinder rises quite dramatically out of its context. When the building was planned in the late 1960s, the prevailing style of architecture in the US Capitol was the international government standard of classicist symbolism common to soviet, fascist and capitalist governments alike. The ‘concrete donut’ of the Hirshhorn made an extravagant break with this standard. I wanted to know if this break might be an indicator of some kind of ideological shift in American government – a
m od er nism unbuilt p r ojects id eology am b ition r esear ch
Philip Johnson, architect. model of Hirshhorn, Ontario, 1955. Joseph H Hirshhorn Papers, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, DC
Joseph Hirshhorn’s place in this story is a peculiarly American one. The Hirshhorn gift (over 6,000 works of art) came with the collector’s name on the museum and the collection’s curator, Abraham Lerner, being named the museum’s director. This intermingling of public and private interests was common in the US capital – James Smithson’s Smithsonian Institution, Charles Lang Freer’s Freer Gallery, Andrew Mellon’s National Gallery of Art – and this collaborative model provided an efficient and elegant home for Hirshhorn’s collection. The collector’s original plans for his collection, however, were much more grandiose. After migrating to the United States from Latvia as a child, Joseph Hirshhorn made his way from the slums of Brooklyn to New York City’s Curbside Stock Exchange. He had made his first million dollars by age twenty-eight but managed to cash out of the exchange just weeks before the crash of 1929. Hirshhorn next moved his interests to mineral mining in the wilderness of Canada. His mining stocks funded the prospecting and processing of gold and copper across the country. Then, in 1953 Hirshhorn struck it rich in western Ontario with one of the largest uranium finds in North America. He became known as the Uranium King. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki announced the commencement of the Cold War. Hirshhorn’s timely uranium discovery was essential to US competition in the Cold War arms race, uranium providing the essential ingredient for nuclear fission. For security control and profit reasons, the government of Canada immediately set itself up as the sole client of Hirshhorn’s operation, acting as broker and clearing house to the Pentagon. Hirshhorn made over 150 million dollars.
On Site review 27
The planning of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC falls within the legacy of public building initiated by F D Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal. Originally viewed as make work projects during the depression, publicly-funded construction programs for schools, hospitals, housing and cultural institutions were soon recognised for their social and economic benefits. The atmosphere of public support for public works continued through L B Johnson’s Great Society of the mid-1960s. This public spiritedness began to give way after the 1960s until we were left with the mindset we live with in the United States today, where local governments can’t get enough public funding to bring public education much above Third World standards. Thus, in very reduced terms, the 1930s through 1960s represents a hiatus in an American government tradition of economic conservatism. The intersection of this period with a similar lapse in government aesthetic conservatism is what made the Hirshhorn Museum possible. The project started with a gentleman’s agreement – an exchange of letters between President Johnson and the donor of the museum’s collection, Joseph Hirshhorn. The president, under the aesthetic stewardship of his wife, set in motion a very rapid chain of events. A Congressional Act was passed, funds requisitioned, an architect found, a building designed and construction started. But by 1970, with the museum half-finished, a new political climate made itself heard with calls to cancel the project on both economic and aesthetic grounds. After a fruitless right-wing Congressional witch-hunt, the building, nearly starved for completion funds, was miraculously finished. Bunshaft’s building, a relic from an earlier, perhaps more open-minded era, had prevailed, and Joseph Hirshhorn, the self-described ‘Little Hebe from Brooklyn’ found his place on the National Mall, next to Abraham Lincoln (cue Conservative gasps of horror).
preoccupation running through most of my recent work – the possibility of form acting as a signifier of ideology. The following text brings together my research on the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington with my investigation of Joseph Hirshhorn’s earlier plan to build a Hirshhorn Museum as the centrepiece of a utopian town of culture in the Canadian wilderness. This second body of research formed the subject of my exhibition Terence Gower: Public Spirit at the Hirshhorn Museum, 09.2008 - 03.2009.
Land Use Plan for Hirshhorn, Ontario J o h n B . Pa r kin an d Asso c iate s fo n d s . Can ad ian Ar c h itectural A rc h ive s , U n ive r sity o f Calgar y. Ac c e ssio n 1 A/7 5 .0 1 PA R 55300
In 1955, Hirshhorn decided to give something back to the region that had made him so wealthy: he devised a utopian city of culture. Hirshhorn, Ontario would house thousands of new mining personnel and also Hirshhorn’s growing art collection in a museum and sculpture park in the centre of the community along with a theatre, concert hall and library. Other public and commercial facilities were to be similarly clustered in a town centre dominated by a tower for the offices of the mining administration: a symbol of private enterprise behind this impressive display of public spirit. The architect of the scheme, Philip Johnson, came into Hirshhorn’s life through his wife, painter Lilian Harmon. In 1952 Johnson offered his design services gratis to Harmon’s synagogue, but there was suspicion that Johnson’s proposal was an attempt to buy back the confidence of Jews after his very public pro-Nazi
period in the 1930s. Eventually Johnson was granted the synagogue project, which led through Harmon to four commissions (just one completed) given him by Hirshhorn, himself a Jew alert to antiSemitism. In the 1950s Philip Johnson was still closely mimicking the architecture of his ‘Master’ Mies van der Rohe. I would argue that Johnson’s interest in Mies was largely formal, disconnected from the work’s underlying architectural philosophy. Throughout his career, Johnson designed according to a series of styles, starting with the International Style (his own term), moving on to Historicism and ending with ‘Deconstruction’. In Hirshhorn, Ontario, Johnson references Mies’ IIT campus, then nearing completion in Chicago. The somewhat bland town plan was livened up by the architect and clients’ conception of the ‘Tower in Nature’ – the mining company’s office tower rising out of the wilderness.
On Site review 27
Video still from Wilderness Utopia (Terence Gower 2008)
ani mati on: S t icky Pict ure s , B ro o kly n
Mining communities have traditionally had an ephemeral, transient quality due to the finite nature of natural resources. Miners typically prefer to live with their families in trailers so they can quickly pull up stakes and move on to the next claim. Hirshhorn and his associates believed the volume of uranium ore in Northern Ontario was extensive enough to merit a true settlement with proper infrastructure. The first practical response to this need was the creation of Elliot Lake, Ontario, a modest planned town which has gradually broadened its industry to forestry and tourism as the mining boom slowed. The town of Hirshhorn was to be different. It was a town devoted to beauty, culture and education. It was one man’s idea of an infrastructure for social progress, imposed upon the landscape and inhabited by real townspeople. The project found close relatives in the experiments of company-funded collective living such as the Godin Familistères in nineteenth century France. But Hirshhorn’s emphasis on culture made it unique. He compulsively collected the art of living artists. His style was nicely described by Lilian Harmon: ‘Hirshhorn bought art like he was at the roulette wheel’. Yet Hirshhorn never purchased art for profit. According to the collector, he bought for love and he bought for posterity, with the notion that the works would be left for the enjoyment of the public. The same sense of public spirit lay at the heart of the Hirshhorn town project. It was a vision of public life fortified by art and culture, masterminded by a private individual. But at Hirshhorn, Ontario the expansive public spirit of the mining millionaire was overwhelmed by the protectionist fears of neighbouring communities and the town was never built. The project may not have had huge architectural merit, but it had value as a sociocultural experiment, and for the peculiarity of its anchoring concept: the Hirshhorn Museum in the wilderness of Canada.
41 S mi ths o nia n A rchiv e s 95-264
from the top: Hirshhorn Guest House, Lake Huron, Ontario. Philip Johnson, architect, 1955 Tailing area for Stanrock Mine at Elliot Lake. A wall of radioactive sand 10m high holds back the tailing, 1987 The Hirshhorn Museum under construction, 1970
On Site review 27
First published in roulotte.03, Barcelona, July 2007
Ro be r t de l Tre dici
Post-script Joseph Hirshhorn left three traces: two at the site of Hirshhorn, Ontario and one on the National Mall in Washington, DC. First, the Hirshhorn Guesthouse, designed by Philip Johnson as a glass-walled flat-roofed Miesian rectangle, surrounded by forest and overlooking Lake Huron. The house was based on a speculative model designed for another Johnson client in 1954. The architect sold a copy to Hirshhorn, which was hastily built near the future townsite in the spring of 1955. The house expresses the same deliberate friction of technological Modernism inserted into an unspoiled natural setting found in Johnson’s town plan. Second, we have the environmental stain left by uranium mining. The mining and processing of uranium ore has left towering deposits of radioactive tailings throughout the former wilderness surrounding Hirshhorn’s townsite. These moonscapes are the legacy of Cold War industry, the dystopian flipside of Hirshhorn’s utopian public schemes. Finally, we have the Hirshorn Museum designed by Gordon Bunshaft in Washington, DC. The museum’s hovering cylinder is a testament to the architect’s investigation of the limits of form generated by new building technologies. –
Panda C ol l ecti on, C anadi an A rchi tectural A rchi ve s , Univ e r s it y o f Ca lga r y
notes on Terence Gower: Public Spirit – the vitrines, the video, the structures The installation at the Hirshhorn Museum titled Terence Gower: Public Spirit was made up of a 3-minute animation (projected at 3 x 5m), a two-part aluminium sculpture representing the two principle buildings of Hirshhorn, Ontario, and four showcases full of original documents on the following themes: 1 the 1955 plan for Hirshhorn, Ontario 2 Joseph Hirshhorn’s uranium mining activities, and mining in Canada in general 3 the Hirshhorn Guest House, designed by Philip Johnson and actually built near the site of the town 4 the Hirshhorn collection in 1955 (some works on paper and illustrations) One of the things that triggered this whole project for me was that when I was in grade 2, a boy transfered into our elementary school when his family moved to Vernon from Kitimat. I remember other children taunting him about the fact that he didn’t come from a real town, as Kitimat had been built in the 1950s. This really stayed with me, the idea of the new town, and then came back full force in my research on Clarence Stein (one of the planners of Kitimat, incidentally) and the New Town Movement as background to my work on the Hirshhorn, Ontario story. Clarence Stein’s Toward New Towns for America, published in 1951, would have been required reading for anyone embarking on a project like the design for Hirshhorn, Ontario. Though I didn’t find explicit mention of Stein in Johnson’s archive, his project exhibits all the characteristics of a Stein plan. I like to think of Hirshhorn, Ontario as a pristine example of New Town utopian urbanism, though it was planned to serve the first stage of the atomic weapon production chain. The irony is that Clarence Stein’s best-known post-war projects were built at the other end of this production chain: they were the satellite towns built just outside the estimated radioactive fallout radius around Washington, DC. –
On Site review 27
t e re nce gow e r
l o uis h e lb ig
Athabasca Lodge, N57.07.28 W111.36.15 Fort McKay, Alberta, Canada housing ind ustr y settlem ent com p any tow ns
On Site review 27
On Highway 63 at the Fort McKay turnoff, PTI Group’s Athabasca Lodge and neighbouring Beaver River Exectuive Lodge provide 2,744 rooms for construction and other oil sands workers. Located within the same compound, these ‘open’ lodges are divided by a golf driving range and feature fitness facilities, games rooms, licenced lounges and catered dining rooms.
e n v i ro n m e n t | housing by louis helbig
l o u i s h e lb ig
Barge Landing Lodge in Winter One, N 57 11.35 W 111.35.42, Fort McKay, Alberta
A joint venture between the Fort McKay First Nation and the Atco Group, the 1900 room Barge Landing Lodge and the 500 room executive and managment oriented Creeburn Lake Lodge house Suncor and Albian Sands workers. The land is leased from the Fort McKay First Nation.
On Site review 27
l o u i s h e lb ig
Timberlea, N 56.46.09 W 111.27.46, Fort McMurray, Alberta
Newly constructed suburban housing on the northwest edge of Timberlea, an expanding suburb across the Athabasca River from downtown Fort McMurray. The price of housing in this image ranges between $700,000 and $900,000.
i n v e s t i g at i o n oil sands by lisa hirmer
m ob ility invention p eop le settlem ent ind ep end ence
margin notes from Fort McMurray
“I could live in one of those new condominiums going up” says a man of retired years while adding to the shed he has attached to an RV that is only partially discernable under a heavy wrapping of insulation. “But then I wouldn’t have this space” he adds, sweeping an arm around himself to indicate that he means the land around his deftly collaged home and the pine trees rising up behind his lot. “And, it would cost three times as much. “Of course, they say that when you sell those condominiums you get that money back, because the market here will always go up, but I don’t know about all that; I’ve
heard stories about plans going wrong for people. You just never know how well those condominiums were built. “Like this I am happy. My wife is happy. And I can have my dog here” he explains, referring to a large woolly dog lounging happily in the snow next to us. “And, who knows how long I will stay? When I’m ready to go I’ll give the extra pieces to the neighbours and drive away in the RV. That’s what I did last year and when I decided to come back after all, the neighbours gave back the addition I had given them. That’s how people are here” .
On Site review 27
l i sa hir m e r
The Centennial RV Park in Fort McMurray seems to exist in the margins â€“ quite literally, it runs along a long thin strip of land adjacent to Highway 63, carved into a forest of slender trees that runs down to the Hangingstone River, a small tributary of the Clearwater. It is more settled than the recreational campground it was originally designed to be, but that settlement is tentative, mobility never fully abandoned amidst the modifications for more comfortable living. Even one of the most settled looking homes has outfitted its addition with wheels; one can easily imagine it travelling across the park or down a highway. In this is an
acute awareness that the rate of change here is often quick. People are perpetually prepared to leave when job prospects start to dwindle. The connection between the RV Park and the oil sands runs deep. Whether through direct or indirect employment, the oil sands are the reason people are hereâ€“ production levels can be measured by the occupation at the park. Last year when production was up, the park was filled to capacity. But this year there are several empty lots. The site manager explains that this is a clear indication that production has slowed.
And yet, for many residents at the park, an initial year working in the oil sands turned into eighteen months, then into another couple of years. With each passing season, the negotiation between settlement and transience starts to evolve and what starts as temporary accommodation morphs gradually into something more domestic. The transition is visible across different lots, with new arrivals focussed on clever, functional solutions to the formidable climate and lifestyle conditionsâ€“turning their mobile homes into space-station like vessels wrapped in insulating foil-backed layers
On Site review 27
lis a hir m e r
of fibreglas batt. Next come heated doghouses, covered carports and outdoor seating areas. Then as the once-mobile homes settle cautiously into the landscape, there are gardens, strings of outdoor lights, porches and full, if still moveable, additions. On the second morning there, a man stops on his way out and without a single question begins telling me about the different insulation strategies being used. He clearly knows what I am up to, and wants to make sure I understand how best to insulate a trailer, a lesson that seems especially pertinent when it is already twenty below zero in early November. “When you spend all day out on site, windows aren’t much use to you. That’s why most people cover them up. Maybe they’ll leave one open but keeping the heat in is more important. After spending a winter here you learn really quickly how to keep your place warm.”
Another man, spending the day working on an addition, shows me how the space beneath the trailer is heated with two heat bulbs–“just a couple of degrees to stop the floors from getting too cold and the water tank from freezing,” he explains. “I have everything I need here. They bring us water once a week but there is enough to last for three in case they don’t get to it.” This self-sufficient stance seems to be pervasive with residents at the park, nearly everyone mentioning the high cost of housing in Fort McMurray and an unwillingness to engage with the boomtown scenario, preferring instead the flexibility and independence of renting an RV lot and adding to their residences with their own hands. It seems to be both a practical and symbolic move away from the town. For those willing and able to make an investment in an RV, rent becomes more
affordable than even a one-bedroom apartment and with a little re-jigging they often end up with more space. Several residents mention the comfort of having even small patches of outdoor space around their trailers and the joy of being surrounded by the trees. Even those without plumbing hookups and who use the washrooms in the communal services building, say the cold walks during the winter are worth being out here, away from things. It is a solution that allows people to buffer themselves against the changing fortunes that inevitably surround a resource extraction economy. Each change to their homes carefully navigates a fine balance between temporariness and permanence, flexibility and occupation that concedes to the uncertainty of the future. In a way, the homes at the park become ships for navigating flux, just as ready to stay as they are to go. –
l i s a hir m e r rural urbanism
On Site review 27
Lost River Valley West Virginia is the setting for a story of how many gay households from Washington DC found, inhabited and meshed with a rural agricultural community. While the beauty of the place combined with the affordability and proximity to the city cannot be dismissed as causes for the new arrivals, a major contributor to the relocation of these urban dwellers can be largely attributed to networking. landscape | c u lt u r e by jeff schnabel
rural life with urban networks
s o c ial c u ltu re s c o mmu n ity u s e s o f n atu re e n gage me n t re tre at
shared territory About twenty years ago two brothers, one gay, converted a rustic resort into a high-end retreat known as the Guest House. It featured a full spectrum of amenities that appealed to gay couples from DC. As the reputation of the retreat grew the brothers saw an opportunity to develop single family properties in the valley expanding the living options. Among the visitors to Lost River was a lesbian couple who then established a bed and breakfast primarily for gay clientele. With the continued popularity of the area they too began building and selling cabins. Back in DC friends started to realise that they had more social commitments on the mountain than in the city. A pattern emerged of households hosting guests, the guests becoming enamoured with the valley, purchasing a house and becoming hosts themselves. In this way Lost River became a destination for a social network that had been formed elsewhere. 1
On Site review 27
je f f s chna be l
As new households began to inhabit the valley, they did so in significantly different ways. This can be illustrated through two new houses built in Lost River. The first, a co-housing project commissioned by six friends, was built on sixty acres and they saw themselves as eventually living full-time in the valley. To them the valley gave them an opportunity to put on coveralls
and work the land. Their house was made from rough-hewn timbers, galvanised metal and stones they collected from the creek bed. Â Rooms are relatively small because most of the time is spent out of doors. They chose a site in the trees, leaving the open agricultural land and orchard available for future garden projects. Â Theirs is a cultural appreciation of the rural.
je f f s chna be l
Despite differences in settlement styles, the new residents have successfully integrated with local people. Part of the acceptance is economic: new arrivals bring jobs in construction and service work to an economically-challenged community. But much of the acceptance of the new arrivals has to do with shared values. There is a common understanding that the valley’s identity is linked to its agricultural use. So far, new development has preserved those uses and territory. Some new arrivals have themselves established agrarian-based businesses and both groups have a shared interest in supporting local services – they were unified in an effort to retain the historic post office and each have done fundraisers in support of the local fire and rescue service. The centres for community activity are shared. The Lost River Inn, a forgettable motel from the fifties, now combines comfort food with fresh seafood specialties brought in by its new owners from the city. While the restaurant tends to have two sittings, an early one for locals and a late one for urban weekenders, the motel bar is a true cultural collector. A combination of high-end beverages and taxidermy led one customer to comment that it was ‘the destination for sophisticated cocktails and excellent mounts’. The motel itself fills its rooms with a combination of city guests, hunters and buyers for the Teets cattle sale (a prized Angus line).
But perhaps the integration is most profound at the personal level. The homeowners of the co-housing project live next to an evangelical minister who lives on his family’s ancestral lands. Upon completion of the six friends’ new home they invited the minister and his family to what has become an annual picnic. The mix of cultures and politics at the picnic was illustrated by two t-shirts worn at the event. The first, Jesus: Workout for Life was juxtaposed against the second, Bush Lied people Died. Despite the apparent differences the two households have moved beyond familiarity into the realm of neighbourliness. When asked how this came to be, one of the urban weekenders offered, ‘at the picnic in addition to our gay friends we had our entire families. In the end our brothers were just like their brothers and our moms were just like their moms’. In this rural valley many urban households have settled the land in a variety of ways, but the qualities that make the area attractive have been retained, some might even say enhanced. Despite differences between the natives and the new arrivals there is shared territory. –
On Site review 27
owners can appreciate the landscape from the inside. The wood in the project is included to warm the design palette, not to make connections to the remaining trees. Swimming for these homeowners does not happen in the river, but in the lap pool suspended sixteen feet above the ground. Meals are frequently taken at the Guest House. Theirs is an aesthetic appreciation of the rural condition.
The second household built a new house high on the ridge after trees were removed to open views. The valley was seen as a retreat from the city, but not a permanent relocation. Their house used more refined versions of wood and metal. The board formed concrete which referenced local agricultural structures was incorporated because it fit a desired aesthetic. The house has large rooms and significant amounts of glass so that the
stac y fa r r a nd co re y s chno br ich settlement| informal by corey schnobrich + s tac y fa r r
life on the Bulb
alte r n ative s au to n o my o ppo r tu n ity c o mmu n ity inve n tio n
private dwelling in public space
On Site review 27
The gate to the compound emerges in between a row of low hedges and is almost entirely covered by a sign reading NO TRESPASSING. The admonition seems out of place in a public park, but almost everything about this park is out of place. The gate is really just a propped up piece of plywood and the compound it protects is an assortment of tarp-covered spaces. The low hedges are possibly non-native species, growing amid a surface marked by the industrial garbage of broken concrete and exposed rebar. And the person that placed the sign is a squatter, a semi-permanent resident trying to carve out a private space and a private life in the middle of a public park. This park is the Albany Bulb, a 12 hectare (30-acre) land mass extending a kilometre into the San Francisco Bay, almost directly across from the Golden Gate Bridge. The Bulb is isolated from the City of Albany itself by Interstate 80, a freeway which hugs the bay’s edge on its way between Oakland and Napa County. As a future piece of the growing Eastshore State Park system, the site attracts an odd collection of Bay Area visitors including off-leash dog walkers, non-commercial artists, nature-lovers and the homeless. Since the early 1990s the latter have used the site as an informal, self-developed campground – an alternative to
and refutation of the shelters and streets of nearby municipalities. Journalists Chris Thompson and Faith Cathcart, writing in 1999, described the Bulb’s resident community in poetic terms not too different from its condition today: ‘Everyone had an acre of peaceful open space to themselves, living a strangely rural existence surrounded by the stunning vistas of an urban metropolis’. Though often described as a sort of no man’s paradise, the Bulb began its relatively short life as an afterthought, a space of discard and abandon. Created largely by industrial dumping, the site started to take shape during the construction of the Golden Gate Fields, a horse-racing track built during the 1930s to the south of the modern Bulb. In the early 1960s the City of Albany and the Santa Fe Railway, the owner of the land, signed an agreement to use the site as a landfill; the subsequent dumping created the amorphous form from which the Bulb derives its name. Due to illegal dumping of toxic materials, high methane levels, and sporadic fires, landfilling ceased in 1984 and, after site clean-up, the Bulb became city property. By 1993 squatters had established a presence in the park and in 1999 the city expelled the growing resident population. A smaller eviction followed in 2005 and the city issued a neverexecuted threat to do the same in 2007.
opposite page, top: aerial maps of the Albany Bulb and encampment locations below: view of the Neck leading towards the Bulb, and view from the Bulb to Albany. The amphitheatre is in the foreground. this page, from the top: clocks and a calendar hang on a tree marking the entry to an encampment, a view of Mad Mark’s Fairy Castle with Oakland in the background. A gate to an encampment, the Fairy Castle. The clothing box for residents, and a resident posting outside the library.
Today, the residential community on the Bulb numbers approximately 40-60 people occupying roughly 30 encampments at varying levels of development. Many consist of a single tent, but others are more elaborate compounds with gates, stone edging, and separate storage and dwelling units constructed of wood, concrete, and metal. The residents have also constructed several general-use structures as part of their community. The outdoor amphitheatre, formed out of a natural depression, hosts many pieces of two-dimensional graffiti and three-dimensional assemblage art. It also serves as a multi-purpose gathering space, hosting a range of activities from picnics to late night raves. Close to the amphitheatre sits the library, a wood-walled and fibreglasroofed structure containing hundreds of books, operating on an informal ‘take one, leave one’ system. Perhaps the Bulb’s most remarkable structure, however, is Mad Mark’s Fairy Castle, a steel-reinforced concrete building overlooking the bay. Using rebar found on site and bagged concrete-mix, the self-identified resident Mad Mark created this heart-shaped structure, including a spiral stair and roof deck/ battlement, solely by moonlight. Unoccupied by residents, the castle is a popular destination for visitors and an ever-changing tableau for local graffiti artists.
On Site review 27
stacy fa r r a nd co re y s chno br ich
s t a c y fa r r a n d co r e y sc h n o b r ic h
from the top: library return window and library books scattered on the floor including The Crisis of Capitalism. A hoist connecting harbour and library and a child carrier and wagon used for metal scavenging,
On Site review 27
Despite and because of the constant possibility of eviction, the residents of the Bulb constitute themselves as an informal democratic community. Though they do not hold regular meetings, the residents make communal decisions based on a word-of-mouth system, whether voting to evict troublesome residents, deciding to renovate communal structures, or ensuring they are represented at important city council meetings. As a semi-autonomous community, the residents make their livelihoods in various ways, including fishing in the bay and scavenging metal from the industrial rubble on site. The residents’ rural lifestyle, however, interfaces with the surrounding urban environment in important ways. Most residents must frequently walk or bike the two kilometres into Albany, Richmond or Berkeley to obtain food and sell their collected scrap. Inversely, social service and enforcement personnel from the surrounding communities frequent the Bulb to ensure public safety, check on the residents and their pets, and try to persuade them to move into permanent shelters.
The greatest threat to the community’s illegal residence on the Bulb, however, is not enforcement agencies per se. Despite previous evictions and the possibility of another purge, visitors and city officials treat the Bulb’s residents with a fair amount of tolerance. Instead, the residents face imminent expulsion when the state takes over the property and incorporates the Bulb into the larger Eastshore State Park System. The state will not take the property, however, until the city cleans up the site, including the industrial debris, large assemblage art, and resident encampments. If the city does not complete these actions by 2053, the property will automatically be transferred to state ownership. Citing the “important scenic and natural character with significant recreational values” of the Albany shoreline, the state plan means the end of the informal residential community on the Bulb. So, in the name of scenery and nature, this manmade landfill, once too hazardous to occupy, will provide a new home to native plants, animals, and human visitors. And while the Bulb may become more “natural”, the artists, off-leash dog walkers, and especially the residents that must leave to make room for these new occupants will leave the Bulb a lot less wild. –
mi ke tayl or and ni col e l a hau s s e de la lo uv ie re
urban friends in rural places i n f r a s t ru c t u r e | a l l ot m e n t g a r d e n s b y m i k e tay l o r + n i c o l e l a h au s s e d e l a l o u v i e r e
c openha g en c ul t ure c ul t i v a t i o n i nt er st i t i a l i t y t a st e a nd st y l e
Founded in 1892 by the Copenhagen Garden Society, Kolonihaven Vennelyst emerged as one of the first allotment gardens in Denmark. Land rented from the city was made available to those who had come from rural areas, leaving their spacious farms to live in high-density perimeter-block housing. The allotment garden was a way for these new city-dwellers to retain a connection to the land and to farm their own 50 square-metre plots. The trend for allotment gardens arguably started in Denmark
If you ask a Dane to explain the word vennelyst you will be offered an idiom along the lines of ‘friend’s delight’. Typed into google, it will generate the translation ‘buddy wanted’. Each of these interpretations offers an apt description of Kolonihaven Vennelyst in Amagerbro, five minutes southeast of Copenhagen’s city centre. but quickly spread with the continued industrialisation of Europe in the early twentieth century. The gardens have maintained their status as a source for an alternative lifestyle in some cities, particularly in Germany and Britain. However, in no country have these rural archipelagos remained such a critical part of the urban landscape as in Denmark. Danish culture is inextricably tied to its farming heritage and the allotment garden has evolved as a mechanism for embedding rural life within the city.
above: allotments are positioned throughout the city, including next to industry and business parks left: the allotment house is often an outlet for intensly individualistic design
On Site review 27
M i ke Tayl or and N i col e l a Hausse de l a L ouvi e re
la ura ko fo d
Allotment gardens initially helped to provide food for the city during times of crisis. After WWII, when these yields became less essential, urbanites continued to value the gardens for the more rustic existence associated with them. The 1950s saw a dramatic shift in Danish daily life, brought about by an unmitigated adoption of modernist functionalism. Architects such as Arne Jacobsen and Finn Juhl established a Danish design sensibility that continues to dominate the domestic realm, shaping interiors, ubiquitously slick and minimalist. It was during the 1950s that the allotment garden became valuable as a second home,
providing an outlet for more provincial and often garish tastes. Allotment garden sheds expanded within the limits imposed by the city (30-40 m2) to accommodate a small family during the summer months. While still adhering to modern design sensibilities in their city homes, Danes came to view their houses in the allotment gardens as places to store crafts and antiques and as an opportunity to create colourfully themed rooms such as ‘Mexican Fiesta’ or ‘Arabian Nights’. In the metropolitan area of Copenhagen there are currently 30,000 garden plots run by 173 different allotment associations.
On Site review 27
la ura ko fo d
mi ke tayl or + ni col e l a ha us s e de la lo uv ie re
opposite: chores by and parties at night above: Dominque Perrault and Aldo Rossi’s competition entries for allottment houses
the Scandinavian-Baltic region. With economic growth, however, has come dislocation of community, triggering activism against the status quo in Denmark. The significance of the Danish allotment house was acknowledged in 1996 with an international architectural competition, Kolonihaven: The International Challenge, part of the Copenhagen Cultural Capital Programme. It called on worldrenowned architects to reconceptualise the Danish allotment house. Several of the built entries are now located at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk. This competition celebrated the allotment house as a legitimate type in Danish architecture. The allotment house’s ability to serve Danish society’s evolving needs makes it not only a typology but also a vital cultural artefact. The house as it exists within the lots, hedges and paths of the allotment has consistently epitomised traditional Danish ideals. Since their establishment, allotment gardens have served as a catalyst for the creation of community. Initially, they united farmers who provided food for the city in times of crisis. Later, they were adopted by the middle class as an affordable alternative to beach houses. Most recently, allotment gardens have served the agenda of a dissatisfied youth within a prospering economy. Gardens like Vennelyst seem to have been created with great prescience. The loose, malleable framework of these spaces and the flexibility inherent in their built structures have enabled different segments of Danish society to fulfill the hopeful naming of Vennelyst as ‘friend’s delight’. –
On Site review 27
This supply provides nearly seven gardens per 100 eligible flats (those with no private garden). Due to the continued appeal of allotments, demand for them has continued to grow. As a result, the Danish Government has conceded to pressure from the Allotment Garden Federation to raise the ratio to ten gardens per 100 flats. In addition to ensuring accessibility, the Allotment Garden Federation also serves as a moderator for land valuation in order to maintain standards for the acquisition of these gardens. An allotment plot costs 5,000 DKK (1,000 CAD) per annum in rental fees and the houses can cost between 10,000 and 100,000 DKK (2,000-20,000 CAD). These price ceilings have ensured that allotments continue to serve as a middle class retreat. A demographic of rural enthusiasts and kitsch collectors has been maintained by this highly controlled system. Very recently, however, a new, younger subculture of allotment owners has developed, positioning the allotment garden on the cutting edge of hipster-youth culture. Allotments have become an attractive destination for young singles seeking community, hospitality, and engagement between neighbours. In small groups of three or four, friends will acquire an allotment to partake in the garden lifestyle, sharing groceries and supplies with their neighbours, a routine not possible in the city. Although many may also have access to family cottages, allotment gardens serve a purpose beyond whatever summer houses provide. Life at the gardens is experienced as more downto-earth, anti-capitalist and communal. This exploration of a rural lifestyle is a reaction to the highly commercial urban condition that has developed over the last 20 years. During the 1990s, Denmark made a radical shift into a knowledge-based economy. Copenhagen, a relatively provincial city with an economy rooted in shipping, manufacturing and industry quickly became one of the strongest business centres of
iva n he r na nde z
f r a m e wo r k s | schools b y i va n h e r n a n d e z
anticipating ruin rural RIA: Red de innovación y aprendizaje — the innovation and learning network
On Site review 27
We were asked to develop an after-school model to be constructed in rural areas throughout Mexico. The model needed to be adaptable to the distinct topographical, climactic, cultural and educational conditions that take place in such a distinct territory as Mexico. We were given one ‘neutral’ site in the outskirts of Mexico City to test the model. This is not the first time we have been asked to design and construct a school model for the government where the model was successfully reproduced, but considering that this year is an election year when most governmental projects are just taken as far as it is necessary to gain votes but are hardly given the necessary continuation, we decided to design a project that was prepared to lose its vitality. The program itself consisted of an administrative area – a small office and reception area, an educational area – two classrooms with possibility of extension, and a service area – bathrooms, storage space and a craft area that would be determined depending on the location we found ourselves in. We did not
me x ic o po litic s ambitio n lan d ar t re gis tr atio n
want the school to be a closed container, but instead would take advantage of the rural landscape. We opted to work each program within a wall, resulting in three walls that extend towards the landscape. We imagine each wall as one of those abstract surfaces Richard Serra places within the landscape that become a perception tool by their mere contrast to their surroundings. Each wall would have its length, its direction, and its depth depending on the area we were given to construct. Each wall would consist of concrete frames that would then be filled with local materials. The established program would be attached to both sides of the walls. We considered each wall as area in a Venn diagram, where the circles are programs that overlap at the walls. So the program attached to the first wall becomes A, the second wall becomes B, the third C; but the program that could surge in between is neither A nor B; neither A plus B, but instead a mixture, an AB, BC, CA; a program that we did not entirely determine but that is left as a potential. So, when a kitchen faces a classroom, perhaps
iva n he r na nde z
What would happen to its structure? We hope, that by building a hard and a soft architecture, it could gain another life. The soft, ephemeral materials could be reused within the community or transported to another project. The hard, solid materials could become sculptural objects left in the middle of the landscape; we want them to become potential ruins. We anticipate that the landscape will take over, covering them with moss, with vegetation. We hope the community itself uses the concrete blocks, platforms and frames as support for un-programmed activities such as dances, meetings, or perhaps just points for sightseeing. We hope that by losing its establish school program, these bone like structures become empty architecture, an architecture that awaits inhabitation by those that live near by. Perhaps, in the worst scenario, we wish for these ruins to become landmarks in the landscape, frames that enhance people passing by to take a moment and observe a rural landscape that is quickly disappearing. Perhaps, these ruins become time and space capsules. â€“
On Site review 27
The project was developed by ludens + R arquitectos.
a horticulture educational area is created that links the classroom to the kitchen. The construction itself is approached in three stages. The first are the hard elements of construction â€“ the concrete frames of the walls, a concrete platform for the service area, and loose concrete blocks that function as furniture. The second stage consists of the attached programs built out of more ephemeral materials, such as the classrooms with their wooden framework and plastic skin or the bathrooms made out of the leftover wood from the casting of the hard structures. The third stage is infill material that completes the areas between the walls, using loose brick, gravel, vegetation or any other material accessible in the area. Certain necessary infrastructure would be built in those in-between areas. In the first model, a water container out of plastic bottles was built as part of the courses offered in the school. Our idea, our anticipation, our reality, is that, most likely, the government would stop supporting this particular educational program in search of a new program that would seem more fresh for capturing new votes, so that this school, like most schools in the country, would start to deteriorate, perhaps be abandoned.
al le n + m a ure r a rchit e ct s
On Site review 27
f lo r ia n m a ure r
f lo r ia n m a ure r
1 green roof with native, drought resistant planting 2 prefabricated structural insulated panels 3 steel cladding panels, acid washed and sealed with linseed oil 4 slab on grade with hydronic in-floor heating 5 photovoltaic energy production 6 interior blinds for privacy 7 exterior shades for solar control 8 overhangs for passive shading 9 aluminum curtain wall 10 standard hollow steel structural sections 11 ground source heating and cooling 12 light valence On the plan, above, from the street, a subterranean Cave leads through 1 garage past 2 a wine cellar to 3 the entry. 4 A narrow stairway emerges from the earth into the light and transparent volume of the Glass House with 5 an open living room 6 kitchen 7 dining room 8 lower service bar. 9 Across a central courtyard the Earth House accommodates 10 bedrooms 11 baths 12 a media room 13 an art studio 14 a private rear courtyard.
earth house glass house cave s urfa c es p roc esses lan dsc a pes ab str a c t i ons ext remes
c o n s t ru c t i o n | n a r a m ata a l l e n + m au r e r a r c h i t e c t s
This small house is composed of three distinct volumes, set into the top of a clay ridge above the village of Naramata on Okanagan Lake. The configuration of the land, with a steep slope facing the road, limited frontage and a large no-build covenant, made it practically impossible to create conventional access to the most desirable part of the lot with its southern exposure and views. The solution was to bury the garage deep into the slope and climb from there through the floor of the glass house, situated on the ridge top. A site with very limited potential could thus be unlocked to provide privacy with a panoramic view. The glass house pays tribute to its spectacular location, and is an homage to the famous glass houses that marked the classic modern era, such as Mies Van der Roheâ€™s Farnsworth House or Johnsonâ€™s Glass House. However, 60 years of technological progress, and an ecological awakening allow us to avoid the technical problems these visionary designs faced. Geothermal in-floor heating, photovoltaic electricity production, large overhangs, exterior shading, cross ventilation and high performance glass let us live with the light and openness we desire, while treading softly on the earth. The house can be taken as a measure of where architecture has come in 60 years; how attitudes and expectations have evolved, but also what endures in our vision of an ideal built environment.
On Site review 27
f lo r ia n m a ure r
The Cave provides a discrete and mysterious entry point to the site. Sheltered deep in the ground, it acts as a sort of airlock between the world outside and the private refuge of the house. The Glass House accommodates the public functions of living, cooking and dining in complete communication with the exterior. Generous canopies, large sliding doors, and contact with the thermal mass of the earth provide simple and effective passive responses to a hot, dry climate. The Earth House is connected by a covered walkway, and sheltered in the hillside under a green roof. It houses the main bedroom, media room, guest room and art studio. The exterior walls are clad with rusty steel simply rubbed with boiled linseed oil. In contrast to Corten steel, mild steel exposes the history of the material as it rusts; its random imperfections, and the swirls of air that washed over it in the mill as it cooled. The Earth House, Glass House and Cave are simple, understated shapes that will be animated by the dialogue between their distinct material personalities, the contours of the hill, and the landscape they reveal. â€“
On Site review 27
The Property Askewâ€™s is a local Salmon Arm downtown grocery store. The Askewâ€™s Uptown property lies approximately 2 km south-east of downtown Salmon Arm, north of the Trans Canada Highway, at the highest point of land before it starts to descend again toward Sicamous. The property is bounded by 11th Avenue to the north, which runs parallel to the highway at this point and functions as frontage road. To the east 30th Street forms a major intersection with the highway, to the west there is a right-of-way for a street (25th Street) yet to be built to serve future residential developments to the north. There are no buildings between the property and the highway, and those across are large-scale commercial and industrial ones. To the west there will be a Dairy Queen; to the north-west is a school with large green fields. To the north is vacant land; to the east, and separating the property from 30th Street, is a block of townhouses. To the south-east, at the intersection of the highway and 11th Avenue, is a gas station and neighbourhood pub. The land drops 18m between the south-east and the north-west corners. Roughly along the northern boundary, and veering off to the north-east, there is a pronounced escarpment. A densely wooded belt consisting of shrubs and deciduous trees follows this escarpment before it becomes a broad wooded area to the north-east. The vacant property to the east is also somewhat wooded, but must be expected to be developed soon. A green boulevard separates the frontage road from the highway to the south. Because of the slope and the generally low height of the trees and shrubs, attractive views are available from most of the property. The property consisted of five separate parcels, four zoned C-3 (Service Commercial Zone), and one zoned R-1 (Low Density Residential). The Official Community Plan designates all five as Highway Commercial.
askewâ€™s . salmon arm urbanising the strip
urban intentions | local sites b y a l l e n + m au r e r a r c h i t e c t s fa s t + e p p s t ru c t u r a l e n g i n e e r s s h o ppin g c e n tre s s tre e t walls de n s ity lo c al pro du c ts ro o f s
al l en + maurer archi tects
Uses and Staging The property is being developed for commercial and residential uses, in a coherent way, in three phases. Phase 1 will consist of a supermarket and office building, Phase 2 of commercial/office buildings with residential uses above, Phase 3 of more commercial and residential developments. The Salmon Arm Credit Union is a partner in the project and will build an office in the development. This will be a much smaller branch office than their downtown main office, is consistent with the needs of the growing number of residents in the area, and a commitment to establishing essential services within walking distance.
On Site review 27
Design Brief The Commercial Strip The development of commercial zones along traffic corridors within the last five decades has typically resulted in areas of dispersed buildings amid large areas of parking. Their lack of relationship with each other has resulted in a loss of urbanity, their expanse and exclusive catering to vehicle traffic has discouraged pedestrian or bicycle access. The situation to the south of the Trans Canada Highway is an example. Re-urbanisation It is impossible to restore a neighbourhood to a more urban ambience through a single development, but it can aspire to be a catalyst for urban life to develop and to raise the bar for subsequent developments in the area. This is the strategy of this project: street wall: The first step toward urbanity is to introduce a street wall along 11th Avenue, creating a clear separation between the highway ambience and the more intimate interior of the project. boulevard and sidewalk: To accompany the street wall, to signal its importance, and to invite pedestrian/cyclists’ use we propose planting a formal row of trees. A sidewalk between boulevard and building further enhances the desired pedestrian-friendly and urban ambience. parallel parking: Parallel parking along the street edge is a powerful urban feature. It looks like a downtown street, the lure to get one of those limited spots attracts users, the activity of parking and leaving vehicles slows down traffic: it reminds us that this is a place where people come to stop, not a race track to be put behind us. containing spaces: The principle of the street wall is carried inside the development. The idea is to contain and define streetscapes and plazas of urban aspect, not disjointed volumes. village street, not parking lot: Until we return to more pedestrian-oriented development models it will be difficult to achieve the number of parking stalls required by regulations and function without resorting to large, coherent parking lots. Still, an effort is made to create more of a village street than the featureless expanse of blacktop typical of shopping centres. The need to keep roads within usable grades for parking offers a great opportunity to create the long switchback, with parallel parking along shop fronts, at the east side of the development. a supermarket without a back wall: The severe drop of the land made it necessary to orient the supermarket’s entrance to the interior of the property, where adequate parking can be developed without building expensive, ugly, and high retaining walls and vehicle ramps. The dilemma of having the supermarket turn its back to 11th Avenue was solved by turning it into another ‘front’: a large glazed clerestory with fixed sun shades forms the curved sweep of the Street Wall along sidewalk and boulevard. It lets daylight into the store to highlight attractive areas and creates an alluring ambience of transparency when viewed from the Trans Canada Highway. The space between supermarket and office building housing the Credit Union is developed into a tight urban plaza at the bottom of landscape stairs similar to those at Robson Square in Vancouver. –
Already in construction the building lets the street wall be the front, rather than a large parking lot with a box at the other end.
On Site review 27
al l en + maurer archit e ct s
The roof structure for the Askewâ€™s store picks up on the principles of the Richmond Speedskating Oval: taking a humble building material, dimensional lumber, and turning it into something wonderful. The 4â€™-wide box elements consist of 2 x 4 and 2 x 3 stacked planks as the bottom layer with a plywood skin on top. 2 x 12s at regular spacing, depending on the varying spans, connect the two. The elements were fabricated during winter in a warehouse and later lifted onto the steel beams. They form structure and finish at the same time. The amount of wood going into the big roof exceeded what any one small local mill could supply individually, so a number of mills all chipped in to make it a truly local effort. The principle is simple enough that crude tools can do the job and yet the resulting roof is a rather refined affair.
On Site review 27
f lo r ia n m a ure r
i n f r a s t ru c t u r e | housing by shannon wiley
a vanishing land opportunistic strategies for movement
In the past fifty years, the north has warmed at a disproportionate rate and the rising temperatures are affecting sea ice thickness and permafrost depths. As a result, shoreline erosion has become a considerable problem for the majority of villages distributed along the north Alaskan coastline. Erosion and flooding have become so severe that at present, twelve Inupiat villages are at varying stages of planning their relocation further inland. The village of Shishmaref is located on Sarichef Island; part of a 100 km barrier island chain bordering the Chuckchi Sea and running 30 km south of the Arctic Circle. Erosion occurs along the entire island chain, but it is exacerbated in Shishmaref because of the sandy soil and permafrost degradation accelerated by infrastructure and human activity. The sea-ice that used to protect the peninsula from the worst fall storms now no longer forms until the winter, and so the northern shoreline has been eroding at a rate of three to five feet per year since 1970. In 2002, the community of 615 residents voted in favour of relocating the village to the mainland. Though funding uncertainties and planning issues have stalled relocation efforts, this project offers a speculative proposal which addresses the currently inadequate housing conditions, the need for an integrated marina and tannery facility, improved access to drinking water and electricity, all while enacting the physical move itself. More than just upgrading living conditions, each step is designed to record the memory of that place and its history. The result is a customisable and participatory process of place making for each family.
c h an ge ac c o mo datio n lan ds c ape migr ato r y pro c e s s e s in f r as tr u c tu re
Indeed stability might best be sought in a placespecific sense of rhythmic change, rather than in a denial of change through dreams of static and enclosed spaces. — Gillian Rose1
s ha nno n w ile y
CULTURAL CONTEXT ‘Long ago, all there was here was water and sand. There was no village and no one lived here. One day a fierce storm raged… The powerful waves threw tree trunks up onto the sand… time passed, grass and other plants grew over them. The grass captured new sand, and the hills began to form. The new land rose higher and higher. ‘From far away, people saw the island rising from the sea. They came to the new land to hunt the animals that lived there in abundance. Over time, more people came and the hunting camp slowly grew into a village. That is how Shishmaref was created. From driftwood and sand, surrounded by the tempestuous water. But someday the land will return to the way it was. It will sink back into the sea. Only the sand will remain, without houses of people, and the place will look just like it did all those many years ago.’ — Old Inupiaq story as told by Ardith Weyiouanna2
On Site review 27
In the spirit of this Inupiat story, this project aims to not only propose a strategy for the community’s physical move, but also illustrate how the fluid nature of culture, community and sense of place can inform design. The story exemplifies just how fully the Inupiat people recognise their own impermanence. Unlike the vast majority of cities and villages around the globe built with the intention of steadfast permanence, Shishmaref was never meant to remain on Sarichef Island. This project hopes to recognise this unique way of thinking by presenting a customisable, autonomous and gradual process for personal adaptation rather than an outsourced scenario of rapid resettlement. The history of the move will be imbedded within the evolving physical structure of the town as Shishmaref begins another chapter.
1 Rose, Gillian. ‘Building in a Restless World’, Augmented Landscapes. Smout Allen, editor. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007 2 Dana Lixenberg. The Last Days of Shishmaref. Rotterdam: Paradox Publishers, 2008.
RECONSTITUTING THE VILLAGE Stage 1: Island intervention. 1-2 years As the community prepares for the move, designers, carpenters and homeowners plan and construct wood-frame ‘anchors’. These large-scale furniture elements are built within the space of each home with regard for layout and usage patterns. Over the course of several years, these new spatial elements become assimilated into the space of each family’s home.
On Site review 27
s ha nno n w ile y
s ha nno n w ile y
Stage 2: Re-usable Infrastructure. 2-3 years Operating in tandem with the island intervention, a new pier is constructed at the site of the new mainland settlement. Designed along an industrial cargo track, the pier acts as a staging ground for the reception of prefabricated houses from Vancouver. Island houses are brought across the estuary, received at the end of the pier, and transferred onto the cargo track, which deposits them at their assigned staging area. Here the island houses are broken apart, and the anchors are removed and transferred into their new pre-fabricated house shells. Since the pre-fabricated shells have very few interior walls, the anchorâ€™s design and placement will dictate the interior layout. From here, families can construct their interiors around these physical reminders of the homes they are leaving behind.
On Site review 27
shannon wi l ey
Stage 3: Settlement Pattern. 1-2 years The complete homes are transferred back onto the track and pulled up onto the mainland, where they begin to branch out into the landscape. The track extends out to the new airstrip, so that it can transfer air-cargo back into town. The cargo track continues to be used as a conduit for electricity, water and gas supply. In the summer months, the pier is used to receive cargo from the south, and house a tannery facility. The old island houses are deconstructed in the staging areas, and the raw materials are used as decking around boat slips which house fishing boats. â€“
On Site review 27
Regional Industry Network Map Establishing three food harvesting hubs along the MacKenzie River provides industry and cooperative training opportunities for the local population. The specialisation in fishing, wild game and agricultural greenhouses allows for the available resources in the North West Territories to be used in hand with the possible transportation network of the barge lines and ice highway. As three educational hubs, these locations have dispatch points that reach out into the territory to connect to smaller settlements and populations to involve the greater part of the community to be involved in a new, local economy.
be r nba um + p la xt o n i n f r a s t ru c t u r e | inuvik b y p i p e r b e r n b au m + f r a s e r p l a x to n
On Site review 27
ser vices c o mmu n i ty c l i ma te i n d us tr i al s up p or t e mb e d d e d s ur vival
arctic spine a proposal for a community and regional intervention; a programmatic utility corridor in Canadaâ€™s northern city of Inuvik Quiet. This place is Quiet. Empty roads and lots separated by space and the arctic landscape. Broken. Broken into pieces, a division of people and space; spread across terrain, striving to be a home, to have a rhythm of life, for an identity. It is simultaneously beautiful and uncomforting. Fragments of development and unfinished work, the settlements in the arcticcircle region of Canada are the anti-city, the anti-suburb.
Inuvik’s Utilidor Path The utilidor is designed to work within any northern city, abiding by any already-established infrastructure and city landscape. In Inuvik, the pathway weaves alongside main roads and through unused space to connect to the existing residential pipelines in the city, major community and cultural locations and empty lots that could be used as social engagers. The pathway is terminated at one end by the port to the water transport, and the other by a lake for fresh water, providing resources and connection to the local population.
be r nba um + p la xt o n
On Site review 27
The project begins by establishing a network across the North West Territories, investing in the potential for a food-harvesting and trade network. Three belts of agricultural production are based on availability of resources and proximity to existing networks and infrastructure for transportation: the marine belt is located in the coastal region with its primary hub at Inuvik. The wild game belt is located in the central valley region with a focus on musk-ox farming while supporting and maximizing the indigenous hunting industry. The greenhouse production belt is located in the warmest climatic zone, making use of both sunlight based greenhouse and LED greenhouse production of food, vegetation and plants. Each town acts as a hub with supporting industries and ports to allow for the exchange of goods, as well as secondary and tertiary settlements that become a part of the region’s industrial production line. The three hubs that are connected to the ports also become landing areas where tradespeople, educators, students and individuals as part of the cooperative program will be dispatched and taught about the industry. The establishment of this interior industry,a large scale Cooperative Utilidor, focusses on strengthening knowledge and practices within the already established inhabitants of the region, then focussing on educating the citizens for the future, providing an economy, jobs and basic needs for the population within the territory, relying less on imports and exports to other provinces.
Dependant on resources from the south, communities of the North West Territories don’t act as a nucleus as do most populated North American cities. Unable to reach back to a core, they are spread out, distanced and remote. There is an inherent disconnect between people, community and the environment – an isolation that pulls these places apart rather than bringing them together. Inuvik is a sample city of this kind of arctic life. With 3500 people, it exists in extreme rural conditions. Situated on the interior of the circumpolar ring, it is close to the arctic coast, along the McKenzie Delta River barge line, part of the winter ice highway and buried in the middle of the harsh conditions of the north. It is set in conflict with its surroundings, with issues of employment, education, health and food paramount; Inuvik has become a settlement distant from its own identity. It is evident that something must be implemented as a catalyst for settlements like Inuvik, but an intervention here must be subtle and coincide with the delicate nature of life; what exists must be protected and enhanced, not destroyed. The Cooperative Utilidor Project seeks to establish new industry and connectivity among these communities at a regional and neighborhood scale, striving for self-sustenance through the activation of local economies. These strategies celebrate the inherent culture of the north, hoping to provide the framework for improved quality of living and a revived sense of community in the region.
Inuvik’s Port The port acts as the end point to the utilidor where it connects to the transport and waterfront of the city at the MacKenzie River. The utilidor supports inputs and outputs of goods and services, providing fuel to boats, electricity and service for the port to function, and the opportunity for both industry and local boating to meet in a mixeduse program ‘shed’ that can provide shelter and closure in the harsh winter climate.
Because this food network is created along the barge and highway line, each hub and supporting city must have a framework that supports business and has a positive impact on the community. The necessity for industry, processing and access at a city scale in the region is what drives the design for the Cooperative Utilidor. The term ‘utilidor’ speaks to a pipeline that carries utilities and provides the necessities for living. Inuvik already has a utilidor in the midst of the city, but it is poorly maintained, runs over and around buildings haphazardly, and provides only the basic utilities to the citizens. The Cooperative Utilidor is a redesign of this system; a utility corridor that runs underneath a public pathway that is designed as collective space. Market Shed Surfaces, sheds, shacks and pathways make up the public component of the utilidor. The market shed in Inuvik, one of several social condensers, is located next to the main grocery and provides a platform for individuals to ‘plug in’ to the utilidor in order to set up a market and create personal business yearround.
On Site review 27
b e r n b a u m + p lax to n
At a local scale, the processing infrastructure, the port, and community programs become hubs through the city, and the utilidor, acting as a spine, works with the already established urban plan and connects them. The Utilidor not only provides access to hot water, sewage lines, electricity and heat, but also has congregation points where these utilities can be used uniquely and easily to the benefit of the community. There are ‘pathways’, ‘surfaces’, ‘sheds’ and ‘shacks’ that all encourage citizens to ‘plug-in’ and use the public programs or space for personal business or industry support. The Cooperative Utilidor pathway has a subtle presence and can be used year round; providing heat and light in the winter, and platforms and shade in the summer. From city to city, the layout of the pathway will change to suit the surroundings, but will always connect the port to the industry and then out to the local natural resources, creating a loop that feeds back into the city and brings people to the centre.
Fish Farming in the Arctic The utilidor expands out to provide means for establishing an industry. Using the example of the new local fish farms, it provides cleaning and circulation for the fresh water, sewage pipelines and fish transportation to the processing hub through the pathway, which remains a corridor where the public interacts with the local industry.
The pathways and surfaces are simple platforms that allow movement and public activity; skating rinks that can be flooded by the utilidor, surfaces that can be heated for work or gardening surfaces that can be irrigated. Sheds are permanent fixtures of architecture supporting the main industry and surround the pathway, and shacks are small, moveable, personal units that can be owned by a family or individual and can be towed by truck and can connect into the Cooperative Utilidor to have access to utilities. This provides a connection between the community and this new intervention; a subtle pathway that provides possibility for work, play and social gatherings. Each component of the Utilidor matches the aesthetic of the north; using simple materials and construction methods that donâ€™t need specialists. Although the Cooperative Utilidor has potential for a large impact, it is a sensitive and subtle project embedding itself in the culture, life and landscape of the north.
Regions such as Inuvik and the North West Territories are often viewed as inaccessible to the greater population of the country, as well as the people that live in them. These are delicate areas, and any form of intervention must know the consequences are greater than the plans. Employment, opportunity, education, community, mobility and sustainability are key elements in northern Canada; one must be a conservationist when looking at such a rural landscape, digging deep into the established life in these regions and being conscious of how valuable these places are. â€“ We would like to thank Lola Sheppard and Fionn Byrne, our advisors on the project, for their guidance and support. All Season Path The utilidor not only to provides resources to citizens, but also provides cohesion to the community as a defined pathway. With components that can be added and altered, wind protection, heated surfaces, grates to drain water and snow and lit corridors for walking, the pathway gives back to the atmosphere and identity of Inuvik. It is an emblem of establishment in an isolated landscape.
On Site review 27
be r nba um + p la xt o n
gr e e ns c o mmo ns agr i c ul t ur e s o c i a l c o ntact l a nd us e r e c l am ation
riots religion urban communities
landscape | k e n t i s h tow n b y i l o n a h ay + g e o r g i a l ag a n a ko u
On Site review 27
Last summer, images of London burning were televised worldwide. On the second day of riots, in one corner of Kentish Town, all shops closed early, bar one, which brought in young male family members and friends to stand vigil. Would it be possible to create and extend this feeling of vigil and commitment beyond just a crisis time and one family group? Kentish Town was once a rural village outside London. Our project is to implement a village-like community, along with an associated self -confidence and independence, in an urban environment. As this is a city in which the state of the economic downturn is never far from the news, where people are ‘locked away in [their] private cocoons’,1 we felt that a return to an ancient and rural landuse model could be socially restorative in the modern metropolis.2 We propose to reinstate a historic Common and to create a hub or focus point on the common land. The proposal takes wasteland and makes it available to those wanting to contribute to it. It creates community by creating a distinct venue, a calendar to help organise it and provides opportunities for further education. In practical terms it will need a tested operational method, a means of income and a business plan. Lost land and lost people; can they be linked together to create something socially binding?
ha y + la ga na ko u
Site The site is in Highgate Road (once known as Greene Street after the village green) in the vicinity of the original Kentish Town common – wasteland on which the landless used to graze their animals. The common has been eroded and its leftovers are disjointed and not used by residents on a regular basis. Modern wasteland is also incorporated into the project. Proposal The new Common will be agricultural with goats, sheep, fruit, vegetables and herbs. The land is for the use of the community surrounding it, including its schools. A hub, ideally located to tie all the identified common land together will be a centre for agricultural commerce, education, and leisure: a market square and a café. The existing petrol station and garage roofs will be extended as green routes for people and animals – links to weave the Common back together.
hay + la ga na ko u
Community Philosopher Alain de Botton acknowledges that there is a moral crisis in society, driven by financial crisis and by individual pride. He looks at how one might borrow good ideas from organised religion, including how to create and encourage community. A congregation is a group of people who are not the same age, race profession or income, but do share a commitment to certain values: in our project, people would come forward because they have common interests, such as contributing to and gaining from livestock and the land. In many existing allotment schemes people from all backgrounds, different nationalities and incomes work on adjacent plots. A place ‘attractive enough to evoke enthusiasm for the notion of a group’, like de Botton’s Agape [both love and feast] Restaurant, to transform strangers into friends: this is our café. A calendar of events to bring people together and remind them of what is important: meals and events are linked to seasonal rhythms, the agricultural calendar, secular equivalents of Saints Days and feasts. The ideal restaurant of the future is one that would foster community, where people sit down with strangers and tolerance is promoted among neighbours over a meal.
Animal shares can be bought by members; rare breeds and British species will be encouraged and promoted and a controlled breeding programme under existing council-sponsored City Farm charities will increase the stock. Potential profit will come from animal products. Animals can roam, contained by cattle grids; streets can be repaved to allow grass to grow in the cracks. A popular farmers’ market currently held a local school can be moved to the hub: it is ideally located next to a road junction and across from local shops – a good central position for an ecofriendly market catchment area, a comfortable walking distance to local transport. In creating community, the project must foster new businesses that address emotional needs, in addition to making a profit. These include the café, seasonal feasts, classes run out of the Hub, in addition to caring for animals and plants. The café will be run by the co-operative, using locally-sourced food wherever possible. The project is a hub in the wider community as well. It can offer training programmes linked to catering and agricultural businesses, in conjunction with local secondary schools. Training in self sufficiency, in making things - whether that be knitting, baking or composting, all will be useful in money stretched times.
Implementation Who will pay for a new secular spirituality? For the Common, we propose that a co-operative of local residents, pupils and professionals will run it – a tested and successful method of organisation. Membership will open and managed by a member elected board. People have a sense of responsibility and involvement by having shares and potential profit. The co-operative will lease the land from the council (a reasonable rate is anticipated as the council will no longer be responsible for upkeep). A grace period will be negotiated while capital is gathered from the allotment scheme. Where land is privately owned – the petrol station, garage, railway land – the cooperative will negotiate to buy or lease the roofs and unused ground. Initially, allotments and market stalls can be rented out; deposits and profit can be brought into the co-operative. London allotments have long waiting lists and generate an immediate, steady income. In 2001, 78% of the people in Kentish Town lived in flats without access to gardens and natural space, making our site valuable to the immediate ‘landless’ community.
Conclusion The Common and its Hub, a focal point for the urban community for all ages and parts of society ties into a trend for locallygrown produce and an interest in things green. Can this zeal be transferred, to help people work for something bigger than themselves, to come out of their ‘private cocoons’? If so, the Common/Hub will become more than just another cafe/park/ farm/shop – it will be the focal point of a new open urban-rural community. Participants will know and recognise others in their neighbourhood, and feel ownership, pride, belonging. It will become an urban village that can look out for itself, its members and neighbours. –
Colleagues Toshiko Terazono and Goneta Heta co-designed the Common. rural urbanism
On Site review 27
1 de Botton, Alain. Religion for Atheists: A non-believer’s guide to the uses of religion, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2012. 2 Vancouver is considered a success story in urban agriculture since the 2003 adoption of the government-supported Food Action Plan: city-wide food system assessment, rooftop gardens, community gardens, farmers’ markets, co-ordinated food processing and distribution facility for low-income citizens. Its community gardens, have not only accomplished social benefits from resident participation but also self-sufficiency.
u r b a n fa r m s | community by leigh sherkin s ma l l s c a l e agr icultur e ne i g hb o u r h ood s fo o d gar d e n s l o c a l i n t e l l i g ence
urban ruralism the culture of food production in urban areas Food and Cities: Urban areas are expanding while labour migrates out of the countryside. Farms are becoming suburbs and a handful of companies control the supply chain. As a result, the city’s proximity to its food source is diminishing and there is increasing consumer distrust of industrial food practices. If we produce food in the city can our relationship with food change? What are the spatial implications, and what sort of culture is created?
Backyard Farming in Toronto A street in the west end of Toronto is characterised by semidetached houses and small yards. Slowly gentrifiers are moving in but for the time being a rich culture exists of food-growing and food-sharing throughout the street. One resident, Adam, new to the area, says most of the residents are of south-east Asian or Mediterranean descent from rural families with incredible skills in farming. They grow impressive amounts of vegetables in yards no bigger than 12’ x 12’. ‘Gardening knowledge is common currency around here’, says Adam, a part of this culture after just one summer. The family to the right brings Chinese vegetables and little to no English is spoken. The neighbours to the left offer gardening tips, kilos of cucumbers and the odd fresh fig from another family member’s garden a few rows west. At the end of the summer Adam harvested the grapes in his backyard and made the rounds with his contribution to the neighbourhood yield. Adam participated in growing to connect with his neighbours; ‘Exchanging food is the most basic kind of communal gesture… it encourages comradery and friendship. At the very least it gives us something to talk about’. In our mobile and busy lives the garden offers a meaningful excuse to talk to one another. It is not organised or planned by a steering group. It doesn’t receive funding or have a name. It is a collection of residents who simply grow food. They are promoting a residential farming identity which reconnects residents to cultural diasporas, and reconnects people like Adam to where their food comes from.
On Site review 27
Farm: Shop At the other end of the urban farming spectrum is an interesting project in London, UK. Farm:Shop is a store on a busy retail strip with highly technical food growing systems on the walls. It has indoor lettuce-growing, chickens on the roof and an aquaponic fish farming system where fish waste fertilises hydroponic plants. It began as a grant-funded project to engage people with food production processes. It aims to both cut the supermarket out of the food system and provide a social space for people. It is farmed by volunteers and community groups, including people suffering from mental health and drug and alcohol issues.
The shop also has office space, meeting rooms and a café. The diversity of use is an active attempt to bring as many different people into the shop as possible. This range of activity is also a result of limited funding which requires the founders to be creative with revenue streams. Co-founder Paul describes the shop as a hub in an interconnected network of urban, suburban and rural food growing. Like a supermarket it links different producers to the consumer, but unlike supermarkets it includes urban growers. The long-lasting foods, like potatoes, are grown in rural areas outside London and sold in the shop. The freshest food, like lettuce, is grown right in the shop itself. Farm: Shop is redefining the relationships between urban, suburban and rural. Paul and his colleagues have ideas to expand the network. They are helping a local housing association raise chickens for egg production. They are collaborating on a warehouse project with a disability charity which will grow mushrooms, something Paul thinks is a perfect thing to grow in empty urban buildings. All of these projects will become part of the urban food network and sold at the shop. Re-imagining Food Landscapes If we increase food production in the city, these two examples suggest that it creates jobs, helps vulnerable people, provides social space, supports diaspora communities, promotes cohesion and encourages consumers to question industrial farming practices. As architects, planners, geographers, policy makers, teachers, students and designers, can we respond to this trend? Might new developments be forced to offer growing plots that also encourage neighbours to get to know each other? Do we reconsider immigration policy for rural immigrants and provide professional support for urban farming? If urban farming projects are viable, could the government provide regular subsidies rather than piecemeal community grants? Could not-for-profit ‘shops’ replace supermarkets? By thinking strategically, spatially and creatively, urban farming can become an important cultural asset for cities and provide a new food landscape for consumers. –
Farm:Shop. Indoor farming in Dalston
le igh s he r kin rural urbanism
On Site review 27
9th century: first records of settlement 13thC: Laasphe acquires town status; the oldest still-existing buildings and foundations are built 14thC: a town wall is built (now demolished) 18thC: the first houses are built outside the town wall 19thC: a train station is built one kilometre west of the old town; the old town loses its importance as town centre 20thC: amalgamation of 24 villages into the township of Bad Laasphe today: the township has 14,300 citizens (about half of them live in Bad Laasphe itself) and six schools, students from as far as 20km away
village dreams Bad Laasphe’s Altstadtfest f e s t i va l s | c i v i c t r a n s f o r m at i o n s by lisa dietrich
c ha nc e drea ms hopes pl a ns pl a c e
Bad Laasphe is a small town in the mid-west of Germany, a several hours’ drive away from Frankfurt and Cologne. Laasphe is the Kernstadt, the nucleus town for 23 villages such as Banfe, Hesselbach, Niederlaasphe, Laaspherhütte, amalgamated in the 1970s. Though these villages have their own churches and schools and in the most part are not even that close, they are considered part of the town and share the same postal code. Laasphe (at that time still missing the Bad which was added in the 1980s) was the only ‘town’ of the group and as such gave the agglomeration of villages its name. Laasphe proper is also where the municipal goverment is located. The nearest town featuring a sizeable movie theatre and bars where one would have the chance to see a few unfamiliar faces, is about 45 minutes away.
On Site review 27
The word Bad in German means bath, implying it is a spa town. However, mean or evil sometimes seems suitable as well – especially if you are a teenager who happens to be trapped in this small town without a driver’s licence (obtainable at the age of 18) and with nothing more exciting to do on weekends than hang out at the 24-hour gas station (where beer can be purchased legally at 16). View of downtown Bad Laasphe. The steepled church, the oldest building in Bad Laasphe, dates back to 1230. The brewery is in the foreground.
Bad Laasphe’s big moment comes during the annual Altstadtfest, or Old Town Festival, celebrated in the town’s mediaeval streets on a single weekend in August. Detested by the residents who actually live in the old part of town for its noise, dirt and stink – but not an issue for people from greater Bad Laasphe who don’t have to re-locate their car and don’t find broken bottles in their yards. And then there are some people who consider themselves culturally, socially or morally superior to the ‘farmers’ – the petit bourgeois and some of the aspiring arty, pseudorevolutionary teenagers with their dreadlocks and torn clothes – these groups aside, the event is heavily anticipated by the majority of the region’s citizens. It’s a round-up of all things thought to be fun in order to entertain everyone. It is the region’s major annual event. There is a long tradition of town festivals in Germany. For example, there are marksmen’s festivals with shooting matches, whose winner is crowned king for a year, marching bands lead a parade of riflemen and their partners through town, people wear traditional clothes, there are dances, speeches. Other regions celebrate wine festivals, nominating a wine queen, probably also celebrated with parades, traditional dances and speeches. Some places, most notably in the region around Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz, have huge carnivals between November and March, loosely based on pagan rituals from centuries ago. And of course there is the Oktoberfest in Munich. Each year, the Altstadtfest attracts thousands of visitors from surrounding villages and towns, some from farther afield. Entertainment includes marching bands from the Netherlands and jugglers — one of the big acts in 2011, a juggler from Berlin, was sponsored by a large local company’s partners in Japan as a thank-you for donations for the disastrous events in and around Fukushima – but generally it is a celebration of the local beer, sports clubs, companies, religious organisations and local talent. The Altstadtfest is an important event for high school rock bands as they get to perform at such venues as the Rockpalast – the Palace of Rock.
l i sa di etr i ch: al l photos taken at 8 a m , t he m o r ning a f t e r
The Altstadtfest started off thirty years ago as a celebration of the old town, to raise awareness of the town’s heritage, certainly to foster a sense of civic pride. The streets were re-paved in the 80’s or early 90’s to resemble historic examples, so there certainly is some awareness of this being a historic site. But on the other hand every little village has its historic buildings. Laasphe is not particularly special that way. The Altstadtfest is like the Oktoberfest, but smaller, without much of a heritage aspect to it, if any at all ... save the name. The festival brochure features a greeting from the mayor referring to the historic downtown simply as a picturesque backdrop for the festival.
top: looking east along Mauerstrasse (Wall street) at the north edge of the old town. Festival tents and portable toilets seem of place with no one around above: the palace of rock is a popular venue featuring highschool bands with names such as The Strawhats or J A G Schulband
On Site review 27
But is it really only a fair? Is the main objective to get drunk, go on rides and look for romantic entanglements during this once-a-year event where, due to the sheer volume of people, you don’t have to worry about being caught in a compromising situation by someone you know?
The Altstadtfest transforms the old town: while residents flee from the noise, the broken glass and the pee-stained alleys, the centre is closed to traffic to make way for portable washrooms, stages for performances, rides and games for entertainment and street vendors selling sweets and cheap plastic toys. As intoxicated people crowd the streets, the old part of town becomes a fair ground. The Altstadtfest works because it offers entertainment on so many levels and at such a large scale. You don’t necessarily even have to actively participate. Due to the high density of ‘life’ around you, you’d have trouble escaping it even if you wanted to.
a break in one’s normal life. If you’re young and searching for what to do with your life it could be more. Growing up there’s just so much hopeful expectation in your life and so much less that you will accept as a given fact: you dream of becoming a famous actor, pop star, athlete, of making lots of money – you are waiting for exciting things to happen in your life! The Altstadtfest feeds into those expectations. This alien experience cannot be cleaned out of people’s minds as easily as the festival’s debris can be swept up. It is much like when your living room has been all dressed up for Christmas: the space maintains an air of mystery and excitement long-after the tree has been tossed and the candles have burned out.
lisa d ietr i ch: 8am, the mor ni ng after
top: not all residents hate the Altstadtfest. The inscription above the door reads “Before God we will go, if we pass His loyalty test. Built with God’s help by Johann Pilipp Weiss, master carpenter” above: looking East along Königstrasse (King street) the central spine of the old town. A man is cleaning his front steps. Stacked tables in the background are waiting to be picked up.
Probably. But the festival also offers a glimpse into the dreams of bored youth – to head to the big city with its noise, lights, anonymity and 24-hour bustle (although few ever do embark on this adventure). It is that feeling of something new and exciting and somewhat meaningful (since so many people participate in it) that often people associate with life in a big city. Growing up, this was certainly something I was expecting and looking forward to: that there would be something new to discover all the time.
On Site review 27
To some degree ‘the exciting city’ may just be an idealisation. From the perspective of the people attending the festival though I’m not sure it matters, since hardly anyone at the festival would actually ever have lived in a city and would be able to distinguish between cliché and reality. The important thing is that something is happening that is exciting, something new is happening where nothing new ever happens, so people are able to say: ‘See, Laasphe has something to offer, too!’ or alternatively: ‘Wow! I want more of this and I can’t get it here. I’m leaving for the big city!’ If you’re settled down, have a job and family in the area, the Altstadtfest is most likely just a distraction,
Before noon the next day, the stages and candy booths get packed up and carted off, the Palace of Rock is restored to a driveway, and the residents sweep away any debris left on their portions of the sidewalk. No more broken bottles, no puddles of puke, no lost wallets, broken lanterns or confetti litter the streets and sidewalks of Bad Laasphe. Come the morning, the festival is over. But although the streets bear no trace of this wild weekend, the perception of the town has changed. There is a promise of something greater, something more important than a new window decoration at the local shoe store that has been around for generations. I have a very strong memory of actually feeling disoriented in my little home town during the Altstadtfest. It seemed a different place with the unusual noise level, the different smells (beer of course, but also cotton candy, food from the various street vendors and so on) but mostly because of all those strangers around me. I would wander down all the little alleys I could find, which I would not have used or even noticed if it wasn’t for the special situation. These passageways might be narrower than a sidewalk and people store their garbage bins there, so under normal circumstances it would have felt like trespassing to walk between two houses – a private walkway rather than part of the public realm. I would remember these hidden passages after the festival was over. I would have memories connected to places that really had nothing to do with normal life in Bad Laasphe. In that way my perception of the town really did change: I could see more and I could see different things than I had experienced before. Come the morning, a secret is revealed: the seemingly unchanging streets of Bad Laasphe are actually avenues of possibility waiting to be discovered. –
Bauer, Eberhard. Bilder aus Bad Laasphe. Leipzig: Stadt-Bild-Verlag Leipzig, 1997 Map: Bad Laasphe, Zentrum, Bad Laasphe: Bürgeraktionsgemeinschaft ‘Schöne Altstadt’ e.V. in cooperation with the Municipality of Bad Laasphe, Department 2, Building Services Festival Brochure: 33 Jahre Bad Laaspher Atstadtfest, 2011 (www.it.nrw.de/statistik/a/daten/amtlichebevoelkerungszahlen/ rb9_juni2011.html). Information und Technik Nordrhein-Westfalen, Bevölkerung im Regierungsbezirk Arnsberg, February 12, 2012. Newspaper: Julian Hinn / Björn Weyand. ‘Wie eine gute Suppe’ Siegener Zeitung, Siegen. (August 29, 2011): Wittgenstein edition, p.5.
b i l d u n g s ro m a n | city form b y t h o m a s ko h lw e i n
ma ppi ng rea di ng hi st or i c a l ma r k i ng wa l k i ng rec ordi ng
Bruck an der Mur Bruck is a town of about 12,000 people in Upper Styria on the eastern edge of the Alps, far from either the capital region of Vienna or the wealthier tourism regions in the west of Austria. Founded as merchant settlement at the confluence of Mur and Mürz rivers, the city’s architecture tells the story of a transport hub – Bruck means bridge – and the changing fortunes of small European cities influenced by forces from outside, economic and political.
Bruck, an old trading town from the middle ages, became an industrial centre in the former AustroHungarian Empire, similar to Germany’s Rhine Valley or the Black Country. The fall of the Empire, the civil war, fascism, WW II and the Second Republic afterwards all left their mark on the town.
Arriving by train from Vienna the first thing you see is the large paper plant dominating the valley. In 1844 the Southern Railway from Vienna to Trieste connected the empire’s capital with its only sea port. Suddenly, after centuries of being a small market place serving the tradesmen and farmers of the local highlands, Bruck an der Mur was put on the map. Soon the area was one of the most industrialised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a sudden change that left its mark along both valleys as small villages were transformed into large factory towns.
above: view from the south, below: town centre with central square, 2006
On Site review 27
Leaving the station, you pass by a cable factory before reaching a bridge to the centre of the town. This part of the valley is very narrow; the Schlossberg, a hill with the ruins of a former castle, forms a barrier between the city and the suburbs at this point. The shape of the city centre remains unchanged, even although over the centuries it was reconstructed after town fires. Most of the buildings here date from the period after the last grand fire of 1792. Three parallel high streets serve as thoroughfares and lead to the central square. The square’s vast dimensions are unusual for Austria and a reminder of the town’s founder, the Bohemian ˇ King Ottokar II – Ceské Budejovice in the Czech Republic has a ˇ very similar shape.
this page, top: view from east in 1890, and right, the same view in 2002 showing the expansion up the valley. below: Bruck’s western suburbs, below, around 1900 and then around 1950 showing the 1920s arts centre in the front and the high school behind it. opposite page, top, the western suburbs in 2006 showing the old city centre, the zone of 1900-1920s villas and schools, postwar public housing projects and furthest west, and most recent, individual houses. below: freeway access to Bruck, left, and right, the construction of a new bridge over the Mur.
On Site review 27
Walking across the western suburbs takes you on a journey through Austria’s twentieth century: 1 Over the decades, more and more open land has been developed to form the main residential part of the town. Starting from the church, you first reach a villa quarter and a cluster of public schools and arts centres from the 1900s to the 1920s. This part is dominated by private gardens and quiet streets that follow the hillside topography. 2 Just after the high school you find the first examples of National Socialist public housing. In a special treaty Hitler and Mussolini agreed on the relocation of German-speaking people from South Tyrol to Germany. This is how the Südtirolersiedlung – South Tyrol Estate – got its name. 3 After World War II, the social democratic city government built public housing blocks in the style of Red Vienna. Various agencies of the federal government also built housing for their employees pushing the border of the city more and more westwards. Soon they were joined by housing cooperatives that bought agricultural land from farmers to develop their projects, mostly rented apartments. With increasing mass motorisation, detached houses became increasingly popular consuming almost all of the valley’s land.
Today, a 30-minute commute on mainline rail takes you to Graz, Styria’s capital, while Kapfenberg and Leoben, nearby small towns, are about 10 minutes away. With locals travelling greater distances for everyday needs, the city centre’s old shops came under pressure from shopping malls along nearby freeways. While small cities in the rest of the country rely on tourism to keep their towns alive, Bruck has a completely different strategy. Over the past century, the urban-rural divide between the compact city and the farmlands around it gave way to a new reality of continuous settlement. Nonetheless, in an area of urban sprawl in the valley and wonderful nature in the nearby mountains, Bruck still serves as focal point, as main meeting place.
Walking around town these days you can see the rising arch of a new bridge over the Mur. With railway and freeway bridges right behind it, the sight of connecting infrastructures from different ages remains the most telling feature of Bruck’s townscape. –
Special thanks to Irmengard Kainz, Director of Bruck an der Mur City Museum, for providing the picture material, including the historic images from the Fritz Stark Archives.
On Site review 27
figure 1 Idealised land-bid price versus distance
wong + vasanth a kum a r
economic spatial trends at the rural-urban border i n f r a s t ru c t u r e | l a n d va l u e b y j a n e wo n g + s a e r a n va s a n t h a k u m a r
On Site review 27
As anyone who has visited China can attest, stark poverty coexists with ostentatious displays of wealth. Such inequality makes for incongruous sights; it is not uncommon to see entire rural villages, crowded with ramshackle houses and lacking basic infrastructure, nestled incongruously in the middle of frenetic government-directed urban developments. Wherever one goes it is easy to pick out the rural migrants, invariably they are the ones shovelling snow, scavenging trash for recyclables or otherwise engaged in some menial, low-paying labour. This inequity is a reflection of the muddled systems of governance produced by an ideology compromised between communism and capitalism. This article grew over the course of a year through a series of Skype discussions from Beijing to Toronto. During this period one of us worked with a local Chinese firm while the other worked in Toronto, our first jobs after having finished our bachelor’s degrees. While the discussion began as as a way to express frustration over the state of China’s civil liberties, our purpose here is to address this cause by modelling the economic-
the case of Beijing
e c o n o mic s lan d u s e de ve lo pme n t pro c e s s e s po litic s th in gs le f t o u t
spatial distortions produced at the urban-rural interface, specifically as a function of China’s property right institutions. Throughout this article, we’ll be referring to figure 1, above, an idealised model of a land-bid price versus distance graph in order to keep track of the interactions that occur along the urban-rural periphery. What we’re aiming for here is to maximise intelligibility without sacrificing the various complexities of PRC’s urban-rural trends. As such, we’re going to be a lot less formal and rigorous than the papers cited in our bibliography but will reference a fair amount of economic concepts that – rest assured – will be defined as required throughout the article. The theoretical underpinning of urban growth requires defining the fundamental role of property rights (PR) in stimulating incentives in an economic system. Value gained through any expenditure of labour is predicated on one’s ownership of its outcome, PR institutions then organises such rights in relation to the competing demands of collective coexistence. In doing so they act as the ‘meta-structure’ of urbanisation by adjudicating landuse and thus shaping the physical growth of cities.
China’s unique trajectory of urban and economic development can be attributed to the constraints it places on individual choice. More specifically, it was a function of China’s dual-institutional system, a vestigial remnant from the Great Leap Forward (GLF) Chairman Mao Zedong’s1 attempt to induce a modern communist state through rapid industrialisation and collectivisation. The dual-institutional structure was born from the Party’s need for a population control mechanism that restricted rural to urban migration during this process. The Hukou system, which at the time was simply a household registration classification, was adapted to fix citizens by status and location to their geography. While theoretically it’s possible to change one’s hukou status, such situations are rare and for the most part hukou is permanent and thus is an effective impediment against rural to urban migration. While both urban and rural land ownership lies with the Party, since China’s transition to state capitalism urban hukou today enjoy nominal rights of property recognised through land-use rights. Land use rights can be bid for and auctioned in the market and in this way participate in a market-for-land exchange.2 Rural land on the other hand has fixed land-use rights and so cannot use, sell, transfer or rent their lands for non-agricultural use. Moreover their land ownership lies with village cooperative, with individual land locally negotiated and ambiguously defined. The dual-institutional system today thus additionally controls market rights between rural and urban sectors.
rural land. P1’s value is therefore based on the state’s calculation of its value.4 As DE-DG rises it also naturally inflates the value of the urban periphery and thus stimulates the conversion of rural to urban land by the government. It isn’t difficult to see how the artificially low price of rural land at the periphery encourages rapacious officials to expropriate land (bracketed between Q1 and Q2), sell to developers at value FG, compensate rural peasants the value P1 and pocket land residuals5 FEG for themselves. Real estate speculation at the rural-urban envelope is thus enacted by the local government, who (strongly bringing to mind the live-work compounds of socialist economic development) tend to first build on expropriated land Urban Development Zones (UDZs). The reason for this is simple – to act as a multiplier effect on land requisition. The basic algorithm being 1) begin land development, 2) drive up land cost and 3) profit: extract inflated residuals from urbanisation. Going back to figure 1, the basic behaviour is captured by the expansion of urban boundary from Q1 to Q3, with Q2 defined as a new urban centre. The development spurs a price increase so that line FG oscillates back up to centre FH and produces a multi-polar urban field. Thus there is little stopping local officials in search of revenue from overbuilding UDZs that supply multiple peripheral zones even if they lack any proportional demand.
The emergence of the derivatives3 market for urban land-use in the 1990s was the departure point for a new era of capitalist development and economic growth. Development at the urban expansion however was still done via the Party. Section DE of figure 1 shows land bid price is proportional to the city centre; over time the land rent curve rotates counter-clockwise DE to DG as land value rises. The urban periphery here is the boundary at which the land bid price is worth less than the value denoted by Line P1, which does not react to the urban market because it is
wong + vasanthak umar
On Site review 27
Semi-formal neighbourhood just south of Tiananmen Square
1 Quite possibly history’s greatest monster and unsurprisingly, still officially venerated by the PRC. 2 Xun, Xianxiang and Zhigang, p16 3 derivatives: a contract or security that derives its value from that of an underlying asset (as another security) or from the value of a rate (as of interest or currency exchange) or index of asset value (as a stock index). 4 P1 is calculated based on potential profit accrued from agricultural production on land. There are slight variations in price but for the purpose of the article we chose to simplify it to a consistent line. 5 land rent residuals: leftover revenue from land expropriation and conversion is called land rent residuals.
A natural consequence of the general deficiency of rural property rights and rising market demand at the urban-rural interface also stimulates an informal market for rural lands as Chinese farmers attempt to gain access to land rent residuals. Lacking land tenure, farmers have little incentive to invest in their property’s long term productivity, are unable to use their land as collateral to gain credit, and can’t consolidate land for larger-scale farming that takes advantage of economies of scale. The restrictions on rural hukou basically work to restrict the liquidity and fungibility of land assets – and in doing so greatly decreases the potential value of land. For farmers then, it is by far more profitable to circumvent restrictions in a variety of ways in order to sell or lease their collective lands for non-agricultural uses.6 Note that this is not as risky as it sounds. Due to a combination of China’s extraordinary size and inchoate system of laws, the country has out of necessity developed a form of legal pluralism that, implicitly condones a certain amount of flexibility and experimentation.6a In fact certain methods are sometimes abetted by local governments in order to absorb surplus rural labour in local industries. Back to figure 1, informal urbanism will raise the value of land rent residuals and give shape to meniscus AC1B in the land bid curve. As such development is legally ambiguous at best and given rural peasant’s generally limited access to credit, the built outcome thus manifests landscapes of crowded, low-density, ramshackle structures of low-rent housing and industry markets. Thus even as the supporting conditions of urban transportation and infrastructure are developed region AC1B cannot align to the urban land cost, elevating at best to curve AC2B. Ultimately these regions end up as the incongruous informal villages, the corollary spatial pattern to expanding urbanisation in China.
w o n g + va san th aku mar
On Site review 27
If one wanted to construct a remarkably inefficient system of development, that built in inequality and managed to circumscribe bottomup development by the caprice and profligacy of top-down authority, China’s dual-institutional structure would be a pretty good start. This is without even getting into the immeasurable cost to human dignity in a country where no legitimate conduit for protest exists. Such structural failings at the rural-urban envelope are coincident to the set of civil institutions that underlie them.
6, 6a Lanchih Po, pp 1604, 1612
wong + va s a nt ha kum a r
Luxury high-rise construction and the remains of a neighbouring semi-formal village by Beijing’s 5th Ring road where one of the authors lived and worked.
By unpacking them, we suggest an alternative way to read cities and their rural peripheries: specifically their property institutions can be understood as the conceptual matrix that shapes specific modalities of land use. This in turn provides a way to abstract and derive the policy reforms that enable productive, robust and just societies. Which is how we’ll conclude the article. There have been in fact numerous local attempts and experiments at mitigating the problems caused by the dual-institutional PR regime7 – however, large scale reform has largely been resisted for a number of reasons: land residuals remain the only way to finance necessary urban development, there is a fear that landlessness creates destitute poverty, there is a lack of social and physical infrastructure to accommodate increased urban migration, the government’s instinct is to preserve stability at all costs, and traces of socialist ideology remains, even today, wary of privatisation.7a
bibliography ‘A work in progress’. The Economist (17. May 2011): Web. 25. Jan 2012 Deng, F Frederic and Huang, Youqin. ‘Uneven land reform and urban sprawl in China: the case of Beijing’. Progress in Planning 61 (2004): 211-236
On Site review 27
Ding, Chengri. ‘Urban Spatial Development in China’s Pro-Land Policy Reform Era: Evidence from Beijing’. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper (2003): 1-32 Naughton, Lewis. The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2007 Po, Lanchih. ‘Redefining Rural Collectives in China: Land Conversion and the Emergence of Rural Shareholding Co-operatives’. Urban Studies 45(8) (2008): 1603-1623 ‘Where do you live?’ The Economist (23. Jun 2011): Web. 25. Jan 2012 Xun, Li, Xianxiang, Xu and Li Zhigang. ‘Land Property Rights and Urbanization in China’. The China Review (2010):11-38 Definitions from www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary
7, 7a Lanchih Po, p 1603 and ‘Where’, The Economist 8 Deng and Huang, p232
The most effective policy reform would be the implementation of a property tax or development impact fee that would allow local governments to extract revenue without directly controlling development process.8 With access to a continuous source of revenue, officials could also be convinced to allow rural peasants to sell their own land and thus have access to residuals themselves. Combined with a market for rural derivatives (already being tested in the cities of Chengdu and Chongqing) it could reequilibrate economic-spatial interaction through the emergence of a decentralised system of resource allocation. –
i sabel l e ha ye ur
Uprooted, 2012, 10:45, HD http://vimeo.com/ailleurs/uprooted Recent technological changes have transformed natural and rural environments to the point of producing uniform, ever-more polluted environments in their stead. These are territories fashioned by man: peripheries of North American cities, strangely alike from one to the next in that none of them feels like somewhere. Their excessively wide spaces, standardised and shapeless, generate a sense of unease. Urban upheavals can turn the most familiar locale into an unrecognisable, anonymous, even forbidding place. On this blank slate, local memory is forever erased. â€“
On Site review 27
c o n s t ru c t i o n | p l ac e b y i s a b e l l e h ay e u r spr awl a nony mi t y dest r uc t i o n
Thanks to Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts et des lettres du QuĂŠbec, Bemis Centre for Contemporary Arts and Magdal Hayeur.
calls for articles i s s ue 2 8 : s o un d Fa ll 2 0 1 2 ideas/proposals for articles, recordings and podcasts: due 1st July 2012 specs: www.onsitereview.ca/callforarticles
As always, take the themes in whatever direction you want, and remember, this is a journal about architecture and urbanism, design and landscape, about spatiality and construction. Push each theme into these fields. Sound hooks us up with our surroundings by offering us data – blasting sirens report emergencies, loudspeakers direct crowds in transport hubs and door chimes allow retailers to keep tabs on shoppers. But it can just as easily trigger divisions when protests against noises ranging from a nightclub’s techno beats to the drone of a wind farm eventually result in a forced closure or relocation. In both cases, the study of sound unfolds into a larger study of our relationship with architecture, urbanism and each other. An ever-changing mix of sounds casts a more up-todate reflection of society than the slower pace of construction. We navigate cities by map, satellite and street views overlaid with real-time data; we can also listen to (or ignore) sounds with an expanded set of tools—noise cancelling headphones, infrasonic and ultrasonic sensors, acoustic fingerprinting technology – that may not only alter the sounds we hear, but also our perception of, and relationship to, the environment. Sound (past, present and future) has a relationship to buildings and cities as well as an impact (good, bad and ugly) on our experience of space. What does architecture sound like? What do we hear in our cities?
i s s ue 2 9: g eo l og y S pr ing 20 1 3 ideas/proposals for articles only: due 1st January 2013
Until recently, the word geologic referred simply and directly to the science of geology – the study of the origin, history, and structure of the earth. But that seems to be changing. Something is happening to and with the ways that people take up the geologic. We seem to sense that the geologic is not only an area of scientific inquiry – it has also become a condition of daily life. How do we locate ourselves and our cities, our architecture, within jostling and unstable physical, social, political and economic situations that arise from, and act back upon, geologic materialities, forces and events?
i s s ue 3 0: ethi cs and pu bl ics Fa ll 2 0 1 3 ideas/proposals for articles only: due 1st July 2013 specs: www.onsitereview.ca/callforarticles
We are interested in exploring what questions arise when thinking about ethics in relation to design and the built environment. How do we know what good design is? Who are you designing or speaking for and who are the publics of architecture and urban design? What are your relationships to others in design processes and what are your responsibilities to them? What are the values of good practice? Are professional ethical codes good as they are or in need of reformulation? We are also interested in knowing how recent multi-disciplinary trends like relational aesthetics, assemblage theory and actor network theory might influence the way in which we conceive of ethical relations in understanding and transforming the built environment. More generally, we are interested in critical reflection on what it means to intervene significantly into the lives of others and their environment. This call for articles is still in development. Please check www.onsitereview.ca/callforarticles for updates.
send anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the letters section: good letters constitute tiny essays in themselves, and also point out errors in thinking and logic, differences of opinion, general commentary, controversy. Everything is up for discussion.
l etter s
On Site review 27
on site 27 spring 2012 On Site review is published twice annually (Spring and Fall) by the Association for non-profit architectural fieldwork [alberta] which promotes field work in matters architectural, cultural and spatial.
rural urbanism contributors: allen + maurer, drawn to the less trampled, have developed a working method that aims to reduce trampling everywhere. chris allen grew up in a small logging village on Adams Lake, BC, and florian maurer fled Munich the day after graduating from architecture school for the Canadian north. www.allenmaurer.com heather asquith is an architect in Toronto. She grew up in the small town of Keswick, Ontario. email@example.com piper bernbaum, from Calgary, was influenced by local arts and indigenous culture. Currently completing her Bachelor of Architectural Studies (Hons) at Waterloo, her interests lie in community-based design and cultural research and preservation. www.piperbernbaum.com fraser plaxton, completing his BArch at the University of Waterloo, grew up in Toronto, but has always possessed a keen fascination for remote conditions and traditional cultures. firstname.lastname@example.org joshua craze grew up in a small Welsh village. He has since been trying to find his way back. www.joshuacraze.com [Not a rural village]. giulio petrocco is an Italian photojournalist, recently shortlisted for the Prix Bayeux-Calvados for War Correspondents with his essay ‘Yemeni Revolution’. www.giuliopetrocco.com
On Site invites theme-based submissions — reviews, commentary, photo-documentation, project descriptions, critical essays. www.onsitereview.ca/callforarticles For any and all inquiries, please contact: email@example.com Canada Post agreement 40042630 ISSN 1481-8280 copyright: On Site review and ANPAF[A] All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise stored in a retrieval system without the prior consent of the publisher is an infringement of Copyright Law Chapter C-30, RSC1988. cover price $14 subscriptions per year/two issues: $24 two years/four issues: $38 three years/six issues: $50 in Canada: shipping and handling included. for USA: add $12/year for International: add $24/year back issues: $7.50 Libraries: order through SWETS, Harrasowitz or EBSCO subscription forms: www.onsitereview.ca/subscribe PayPal or cheque to On Site 1326 11 Avenue SE Calgary, Alberta T2G 0Z5 editor: Stephanie White design: Black Dog Running printer: Emerson Clarke Printing, Calgary, Alberta distribution: Magazines Canada 1+ 416 504 0274 Ubiquity Distributors USA 1+ 718 875 5491
On Site review 27
On Site gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of our contributors, our volunteers, our subscribers and the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts through their Publishing Grants to Arts and Literary Magazines.
lisa dietrich grew up in the boondocks of Germany but is currently living, working and exploring (in) Toronto. She is interested in the context and connection of things, people, places and how we perceive these. www.lisadietrich.de terence gower, a Canadian artist living in New York City, works on post-war architecture and urbanism and has shown his installations and videos in museums, biennials and film festivals around the world. He grew up in Vernon, BC. ilona hay is a director of Texere Studio and teaches at the University of Kent. She is an architect, educated at Dalhousie, originally from Vancouver. georgia laganakou, originally from Kalamata, Greece, is a Part II architectural assistant in the UK with an MA in Sustainability and Design. kenneth hayes is an architectural historian who recently completed a doctoral dissertation in Ankara, Turkey. He grew up in Dowling, a town of 3,000 people forty kilometres north of Sudbury. isabelle hayeur lives and work in Montreal. Growing up in a suburb, she was faced with the spectacle of urban sprawl and the disappearance of so many things in its path. isabelle-hayeur.com louis helbig (MSc, London School of Economics) grew up in Williams Lake, BC. He is an artist and social commentator. louishelbig.com beautifuldestruction.ca sunkenvillages.ca lisa hirmer is a principal at the research collective DodoLab, a photographer/artist/writer based in Guelph, and has an MArch from the University of Waterloo. She grew up in Aurora, Ontario. www.dodo lab.ca miriam ho is an architectural designer. She grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, where her imagination fled to landscapes of fiction and wilderness. ivan hernandez quintela graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin. In Mexico City, 2002, he established ludens as a spatial practice focussed on the potential of play. www.ludens.com.mx thomas kohlwien grew up in Bruck an der Mur, Austria and studied Urbanistics in Vienna. Exploring the relationship between architecture and literature, his work includes mapping projects in New York and Sydney. www.tkhome.net david murray is an architect in Edmonton, Alberta. He specialises in conservation architecture and heritage resource management, and was raised in small town Port Hope, Ontario. www. davidmurrayarchitect.ca jason j price is an independent documentary filmmaker and PhD candidate in anthropology at UC, Berkeley. víctor muñoz sanz (Architect’06, ETSA Madrid; MAUD’11, Harvard GSD) established Sanz-Serif in 2010. He is involved in the development of the South America Project, and current PhD research focuses on the Bata satellite towns. jeff schnabel is an Assistant Professor in Architecture at Portland State University. He is grateful for his wonderful Hardy County West Virginia clients and the cream pies that were a part of most meetings. corey schnobrich works for Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in San Francisco and grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota. stacy farr is an architectural historian in the San Francisco Bay Area and grew up in Glenside, Pennsylvania. dana seguin is a Toronto-based designer associated with the Toronto Free Gallery and The Institute Without Boundaries. chris katsarov luna is a documentary photographer and photojournalist. Subjects include: work and civil society, conflict and identity, and themes in international development. luna.photoshelter.com leigh sherkin is the director of the urban planning company, specialising in community planning and regeneration. firstname.lastname@example.org michael taylor, city boy from Toronto, is an M.Arch candidate at UBC, has studied at Queen’s University and at the Architectural Association. At BIG he completed several research projects on Copenhagen and is currently working at Buro-Ole Scheeren in Beijing. nicole la hausse de lalouviere, an M.Arch student at UBC, recently researched disturbed sites and landscapes while at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and is now working for MAD Architects, Beijing. She is from Tamarin, a surfing village in Mauritius. stephanie white is the editor of On Site review, lives in Calgary, grew up first in Victoria, then Nanaimo, BC.
On Site also acknowledges the support of Calgary Arts Development, City of Calgary.
shannon wiley holds an MArch from the University of Toronto, where she became interested in adaptive rural architecture. She currently practices architecture in Toronto. Shannon.email@example.com www.shannonwiley.com jane wong and saeran vasanthakumar are frequent research collaborators and are graduates of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. www.janew.com and www.saeranv.blogspot.com sarah zollinger lives in a perfectly Nova Scotian ocean village. Her businesses, Shelter Design Co. and Rose&Rooster Bakery, are just two of ways she is working towards really/fully/completely living in the country.
Starting from ... the Suburbs
On Site review 25:identity + 26:dirt joint issue launch was held at Erin Stump Projects, Toronto November 2 2011
16 February - 10 June 2012
If you would like an issue launch in your city, contact us and we will collect all the contributors, subscribers and friends of On Site review in the near region to get it organised. We need an interesting space, a bit of local sponsorship and a date.
Gary Winogrand, photographer. Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1957 Gelatin silver print, 27.8 x 35.3 cm. CCA Collection PH1884:0420 © The estate of Gary Winogrand. Suburbs have existed for over a hundred years as real estate speculations and private escapes from ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle and habits of cities. But their importance, especially in the American landscape, exploded in the building boom following World War II. Starting from… The Suburbs looks at the past fifty years of suburban culture through the lens of the CCA Collection’s photography holdings, produced by photographers’ longstanding attraction and aversion to this urban form. Starting from… The Suburbs is inspired by Montrealbased band Arcade Fire and director Spike Jonze’s 2010 music video, The Suburbs, a dystopian re-imagining of an Austin, Texas, subdivision.
Starting From… The Suburbs is the result of a conversation between Cerys Wilson and Marta Masferrer Juliol.
ARCHIZINES at Spazio FMG, Milan: Mauro Consilvio / SpazioFMG ARCHIZINES at the AA: Sue Barr / The AA School
From photo-copied and print-on-demand newsletters such as Another Pamphlet, Scapegoat and Preston is My Paris, to magazines such as Mark, Spam and PIN-UP – ARCHIZINES celebrates and promotes the recent resurgence of alternative and independent architectural publishing from around the world. The exhibition, curated by Elias Redstone, originated as an online project and showcases 60 architecture magazines, fanzines and journals from over 20 countries. From Australia and Argentina to the UK and USA, these independent publications are reframing how people relate to their built environment – taking comment and criticism out of just an architectural arena and into everyday life. The titles also provide platforms for architectural research and debate, and demonstrate the residual love of the printed word and paper page – providing an antidote to digital publishing. Made by architects, artists and students, they add an important, and often radical, addition to architectural discourse. Each magazine is available to read in the exhibition along with video interviews with their creators talking about their work.
Barcelona 12 April – 4 May 2012 Otrascosas de Villar-Rosàs Events to be announced
Porto June 2012 Faculty of Architecture, Porto University (FAUP) Opening and round table: Thursday 14 June
New York 18 April – 9 June 2012 Storefront for Art and Architecture ARCHIZINES LIVE: Symposium on Publishing Practices: 20 – 21 April
Paris 7 – 29 September 2012 Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture ARCHIZINES LIVE and private view: Thursday 6 September
Berlin 26 April – 26 May 2012 do you read me?! ARCHIZINES LIVE: Saturday 28 April
Bratislava 5 – 23 November 2012 Slovak Technical University
Montreal Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) ARCHIZINES LIVE: Thursday 17 May 2012 (event only)
Dublin 15 November 2012 – 12 January 2013 Preview: Wednesday 14th November Irish Architecture Foundation
usa $14 mexico $14 europe e10 uk ÂŁ9 www.onsitereview.ca
architecture urbanism culture landscape art photography research
John J Landale, Map of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, 1881. courtesy of Nanaimo Community Archives Google Maps, 30.03.2012
The premise of the issue is that planning orthodoxy privileges cities, and small cities haven’t access to the urban conditions on which such...