By Yasmine Shemesh
VANCOUVER — What would Vancouver be like with a floating forest? Imagine — barges submerged in water that hold botanical gardens and playgrounds. Or how about a 2,500-foot tall structure with suspended sections and a rooftop park that offers the most spectacular view of the city? Both ideas are proposals dreamed up by architects and urban planners in a new exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver, Your Future Home: Creating The New Vancouver.
Co-presented by the Urbanarium—a non-profit society that ignites discourse related to urban planning, design, and architecture—Your Future Home specifically addresses housing affordability, residential density, transportation, and public space through nearly two dozen visions for Metro Vancouver. “It’s mostly positive changes, meaning they’re looking at issues in these four thematic areas,” explains Gregory Dreicer, MOV Director of Curatorial and Engagement. “In some cases [it’s] maybe provocation, but mostly solutions. Often, you’ll have visions of the future that are fantastic — airplanes that become boats or people flying around. A lot of them are exciting, but a lot of them are reality-based. They could happen. It’s about getting people to think outside of the box and to realize that there are all kinds of solutions out there to the challenges.”
The exhibition is separated into three parts. Visitors first enter an introductory room that holds a wall-mounted grid of about 120 photos of a variety of homes, ranging from opulent mansions to a homeless person’s tent in Stanley Park. The purpose of this, Dreicer maintains, is to encourage people to think about what the term “home” means to them. Secondly, there’s the Presentation Centre. This consists of large photographs, including a sweeping panorama and data visualizations created by Bing Thom Architect’s “data guru” Andy Yan that show the city change over time. Visitors then continue into a large space called the Future Grid, which contains the proposals divided into quadrants according to the four themes.
The proposals were made by a variety of local innovators, from large firms to artistic collectives. Some of the visualizations, alongside PFS Studio’s aforementioned barge parks and Henriquez Partners Architects’ towering structure, include a documentary made by Simon Fraser University students that explores how everyday transportation is critical to the future of both Vancouver and its residents. There’s also a non-hierarchical grid, created by Erick Villagomez, that overlays the existing city.
As well as visions for the future, Your Future Home also features eight stories that reflect upon Vancouver’s past. “Eight moments showing how things happen, like the freeway being stopped, for example,” Dreicer continues, referring to the freeway running through Strathcona, Chinatown, and along the downtown waterfront that was propositioned in the 1960s. “Or Arbutus Lands, on the edge of Kitsilano — that being developed in a way that wasn’t what was originally planned. That was because the community got involved. So, these stories are about how people can actually be involved and take action and can make a difference, and it shows all the different ways that can be done.” Visitors are invited to make their own voices heard in complimentary discussions and workshops.
Your Future Home was assembled in just six months — a rapid development that represents the timeliness of the issues confronted in the exhibition itself. As a result, Dreicer says, it’s very much of the moment. “If you would ask any group of Vancouverites what’s their biggest concern or biggest anxiety or worry about living in the city, [one of] the topics that they would name would be affordability…and here at the Museum of Vancouver, we’re focusing on contemporary Vancouver and [are] most interested to hear what most people are interested about,” he says. “And so, we knew we had to do some project that really is exploring affordability and also issues that are really closely related to that, which are transportation [and] density — how closely people are living together, how many people live in a neighbourhood. Also public space, what the common areas of the city are like.”
Your Future Home: Creating The New Vancouver runs at the Museum of Vancouver until May 15.BC, British Columbia, fine art, Museum of Vancouver, Your Future Home