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Can Vancouver "shift form"?

A new design competition thinks it can.

In a recent post, I discussed the value of open design competitions in strengthening a city's "culture of design". I explained how Vancouver, often described as a city by design but in past years perhaps lacking a competition skill-set, is seeking to strengthen that culture, albeit by small steps and grass-roots efforts thus far. Here's the link - you might want to read that post first

Brent Toderian | March 3, 2009, 4pm PST
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A new design competition thinks it can.

In a recent post, I discussed the value of open design competitions in strengthening a city's "culture of design". I explained how Vancouver, often described as a city by design but in past years perhaps lacking a competition skill-set, is seeking to strengthen that culture, albeit by small steps and grass-roots efforts thus far. Here's the link - you might want to read that post first

In keeping with that goal, I've been working with the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) on a new competition - FormShift Vancouver - intended to translate Vancouver's strong commitments around climate change and a lower ecological footprint into bold new building ideas and typologies. Although as a city our expectations around green building design are significant (with the highest green standards for new building design in North America, embedded in our rezoning policy and our local green building code), the design competition seeks to break open the creativity and innovation of the design community, and help us meet our new Mayor Gregor Robertson's recent challenge to make Vancouver "the greenest city in the World within 10 years". No small challenge, with a related need to do many things significantly differently.

To be sure, one of the most significant challenges during the last few years of the EcoDensity exercise was the inability to point to built designs or forms that would meet the many significant aspirations of the existing or evolving commitments, in our Climate Change Action Plan, our adoption (the first city to do so) of the Architecture 2030 Challenge, and in our multi-faceted EcoDensity Charter. So when it came time to work on built-form examples or options that could indeed reflect these commitments, we opted not for the usual in-house or consultant-led process, but rather for a competition.

Here's a recent article on the competition and below is the media release with links to the various documents and the FormShift webpage. The results will be illustrated on the website later this spring.  Many thanks to the AIBC for their leadership and work-ethic, to the many architects and urbanists on the competition organizing committee, and to all those designers (in advance) locally and from around the world who choose to enter. You're contributing not only to a great discussion on sustainable design and city-building....but indeed, to our culture of design as well.

Ideas Competition Promises to Shift Vancouver's Face and Form Media Release     
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