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Blogathon 2009 – Canadian Centre for Architecture, and What You Can Do With the City

Blogathon 2009 Vancouver for Vancouver Public Space NetworkThis blog post is part of Blogathon 2009, in which I am blogging for 24 hours straight in order to raise money for the Vancouver Public Space Network, an entirely volunteer-run organization who do advocacy and education on the public realm in my home of Vancouver, British Columbia. Please consider supporting by sponsoring me with a pledge, leaving a comment or contacting me to contribute a guest post.

My deepest thanks to the author of Slow Blog, my latest sponsor!

When I was in Montreal at the beginning of the month, I had the good fortune to visit the Canadian Centre for Architecture, on Canada Day. The Centre itself is based in a gorgeous, restored historical building, with a really big lawn out front…I couldn’t resist a little video.

I really quite enjoyed the current exhibition called Speed Limits/La Vitesse et Ses Limites, which looked at speed from a number of different angles:

  1. there was speed in traffic and transportation, featuring some great historical working documents from the New York and Chicago subway systems, looking at how speed and the movement of people were rationalized, routinized, then made efficient.
  2. Speed in buildings talked about prefabricated buildings in creating new habitats and spaces.
  3. Speed was discussed more generally, as a function of time measured.
  4. Speed as a focus in the home, with the mechanization of housework.
  5. And finally, the biological ceiling on speed, as our overstimulated lives require equal parts chemical come-downs.

But as much as I liked it, I think I would have enjoyed the previous exhibit more, which closed at the end of April this year. It had the highly appealing name of What You Can Do With The City. I had a chance to flip through their publication, where they described some of what others have done in their cities, and focuses on re-interpretations of the urban experience and everyday life through actions small and large. (Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to locate the book at either the SFU or Vancouver Public Libraries…UBC or the Vancouver Art Gallery, I’m holding out for you.)

Fortunately, the CCA had the foresight to set up a website called Actions, where they invited the public to submit the actions and interventions that they’ve done, and feature

99 actions that instigate positive change in contemporary cities around the world

There’s a seed ball rocket launcher, and one of the submitted ideas was for cute ice benches in the snow in Toronto. I like the idea that the city is one of an old, spatial technology for aided serendipity, where new tools like Facebook and Twitter are newer versions of this. I hope to develop and learn more about this idea in my future research around communities when I start at SCARP in September.

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