Space + Place

Space + Place
Hosted by Amery C.
New episode every

Space + Place is a conversation about architecture, the city, and the visual culture around us. Hosted by amery Calvelli and produced for CJSW 90.9fm, it airs on the first Tuesday of each month at 11am. Each show considers how we define the space we inhabit. Be part of the conversation in shaping place. Make room for the possibility of tomorrow, today. Space + Place airs on the first Tuesday of every month at 8pm during the “CJSW Presents…’ hour, only on CJSW 90.9 FM.


Most Recent Episode:
#37: social optimism (August 5, 2014)
Justin McGuirk on Radical Cities, Mark Lakeman on City Repair and Dignity Village, and Steven Cottingham on 10 Years of Urgency.


#37 social optimism

August 5th, 2014

Justin McGuirk, in his book, Radical Cities, explores a new generation of optimists among architects, planners, and civic leaders in Latin America who are addressing the challenge of social housing. He describes a new vision, where slums are no longer a “cancer” that must be eradicated with a tabula rasa clearance. Instead, mobility and key urban design questions are folded into housing the poor. Insertions can be as powerful as a new building. A cable car in Caracus cuts a commute from hours to a few  minutes. The efforts, while incredibly local and not successful in the same way each time, allow slums and the rest of the city to unite as a more integrated whole.

Locals in front of some extended James Stirling houses, PREVI Credit: Cristóbal Palma


Elemental’s houses in Quinta Monroy, Iquique Credit: Cristóbal Palma


The Nonoalco-Tlatelolco housing estate in Mexico City, designed by Mario Pani, 1964 Credit: Armando Salas Portuga


The exhibition 10 Years of Urgency started as an urban intervention in Montreal that would bring attention to homelessness. Created by the artist organization known as ATSA, there were performances, workshops and meals on the site for five days each year. Steven Cottingham describes how this performative intervention is translated into an exhibition. Currently at The New Gallery, the exhibition is in route to the Centre Cultural Franco-Manitobain later this month.

Zero Yen House EU08, image courtesy of The New Gallery


Winfried Baumann 10 ans d'Urgence - photo courtesy of Martin Savoie


10 ans d'Urgence photo courtesy of Martin Savoie

Mark Lakeman, co-founder of Communitecture,  and behind City Repair and early contributor to13-year-old Dignity Village, speaks about creating gathering places. He also describes why Portland supported an opportunity for housing for those without. Dignity Village is a sanctioned, self-developed community that serves men and women who were previously homeless. City Repair brings place-making and permaculture the the level of the street intersection. City Repair Calgary hosted Mark last month with a workshop and public discussion.

Dignity Village, courtesy of Communitecture


Intersection in repair, courtesy of City Repair

#36 landscape lessons

July 2nd, 2014

Ciphers is a book of aerial studies of urban development by photographer/filmmaker Christoph Gielen. Beautiful, alluring, and incredibly geometric, each motif contains hidden code of a time when growth was unlimited. A time when bigger was better and drive till you qualify seemed to make sense. Gielen’s images are provocative, revealing how well-minded plans have become wasteful and force in-efficient ways of living.  Can the photograph call attention to a new type of zoning, particularly one unleashed from auto-dependency?

UNTITLED VI Nevada; “Christoph Gielen: Ciphers” courtesy of Jovis Verlag, Berlin 2013

EDEN PRAIRIE II Florida; “Christoph Gielen: Ciphers” courtesy of Jovis Verlag, Berlin 2013

“Christoph Gielen: Ciphers” courtesy of Jovis Verlag, Berlin 2013

Back on the ground, and left with some difficult constraints in our existing built form, an Active Neighbourhoods Canada pilot project is trying to “better” what we have built. The aim is to link patterns of urban development with mobility options and community connectivity. Started by the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre, and furthered by Sustainable Calgary and the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, these pilots will be working at the opposite end of the aerial photograph, on the ground. Ryan Martinson and Celia Lee share what’s behind the Calgary pilot, and why they’re starting with neighbours and residents of a community.

Active Neighbourhoods Canada WalkTalk in YYC. image: Aasha Williams-Blanco


Les Jardins de Metis (International Garden Festival) is a contemporary garden design competition started in 2000. Landscape architect Ken Smith framed a valley, while Claude Cormier planted his blue sticks. Alexander Reford, the Director of the Jardins de Metis / Reford Gardens, reveals the history behind the gardens and what this competition can do to deepen our understanding of our landscape.

One of the winning entries of this year’s garden festival was Afterburn, a design of charred posts and post-fire plantings by Civilian Projects. Exploring the relationship of the forest fire in the lifecycle of a forest, Ksenia Kagner and Nicko Elliott’s design is a provocative take on how nature renews itself.  The ecologies are inter-dependent. The destruction of the forest is regenerated.



Afterburn in the process of installation; courtesy of Civilian Projects

Afterburn rendering courtesy of Civilian Projects


#35 development is a verb

May 6th, 2014

Doorway installation by artists Matthew Kennedy, Mark Erickson, and Ivan Ostapenko. Photo by Matthew Kennedy.

Community-minded developers charting new territory in our urban built form is the topic of this show. From fresh ideas like zero-parking and paths based on desire lines, and de-construction turned public engagement via an installation, to an investment in re-purposing a storage facility into a gallery, it’s clear that development stretches beyond the act of building on a lot.

Renata Li of Westbank explains how development as city-building embraces placemaking not just for those who will be residing or working in the new buildings, but creates space for the general public to experience as well. Curator Trevor Boddy reveals what is behind the  architecture exhibition and salon series Gesamtkunstwerk. Rooted in the concept of Vancouverism, hear how Gwerk takes design as public engagement seriously.

image courtesy of Colin Goldie Photography for Westbank

image courtesy of Colin Goldie Photography for Westbank


Artists Sean Mankowske, Caitlind rc Brown, and John Frosst take us behind Wreck City, an art installation that repurposed soon-to-be-demolished homes. Rising to the fore as a result was the opportunity for dialogue around the complexity of urban growth complete with heady challenges like social inclusion, heritage, sustainability and affordability, and so many difficult to answer questions. Other curators mentioned in the interview are: Matthew Mark Bourree,  Jennifer Crighton, Brandon Dalmer, Andrew Frosst, and Ryan McClure Scott. Also mentioned: Bucci Developments, Ltd. and the precedent projects The Leona Drive Project in Ontario and The House Project in Calgary.

WRECK CITY sign by artists Caitlind r.c. Brown + Wayne Garrett. Photo by Caitlind Brown


Various artists from WRECK CITY. Photo by Diane + Mike Photography, re-arranged by Caitlind Brown.

And finally, the CMLC master plan has a pedestrian promenade diagonally slicing through the center of the East Village. Michael Brown shares what this move means for the public ream. He also shares what has set the stage where a developer is willing to explore how a zero-parking tower might pencil out.

Renderings courtesy of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation



Hear Jerry Yudlesen, President, Green Building Initiative – May 7th – RSVP requested.

City Building Exhibition - March 22 – June 1

Upcoming salons include: the public art consultant Reid Shier, demographer and planner Andy Yan (Bing Thom Architects),  urbanist (and former Mayor and Premier) Mike HarcourtBruce Haden, Partner at Dialog Architects, architect James K.M. Cheng, poet and urban critic Jeff Derksen, and the Canadian Architectural Archive Director Linda Fraser. To visit, find details at: gwerk.ca

space + place #35 – development is a verb by CJSW 90.9 FM

#34 adaptation + resilience

April 1st, 2014

Adaptation. Is difficult. We have to change. Yet as hurricanes persist and as sea levels alter, adaptation is a concept we may learn to admire. Today we delve into adaptation w/in the urban context.

Three Architecture and Planning students at Dalhousie University–Fatima Rehman, Anders Peacock and Caitlin Biggar–share their experience designing a performing arts centre for the Qaggiavvut! Society in Iqualuit on Baffin Island. It’s a conceptual design, for the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Arctic Bay, photo courtesy of Josia Akpaliapik, 2013

Lola Sheppard is a principal at Lateral Office, the Toronto-based firm that is curating the Canadian Pavilion for the Biennale.  Marking the 15th anniversary of Nunavut’s founding, Lateral Office is modeling the designs generated from the five teams of architects, students and Nunavit organizations. The exhibition called: Arctic Adaptations.


Canadian Pavilion interior rendering, courtesy of Lateral Office

Gordon Robertson School Building in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada by PGL, 1973. Photo courtesy of Guy Gerin-Lajoie.

In an effort to reveal not only Nunavit today, but also of yesterday and tomorrow, the question, then, is how the role architecture might be re-defined in the North. Lateral Office is also commissioning Nunavit artists to apply their traditional craft of carving to modern structures in their communities. They’re also collecting 25 community portraits in the form of a photograph, and have plans to include soundscapes that reveal the acoustic differentiators of a particular place.


A series 12 historic buildings in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut are carved out of local soapstone by Inuit artists. Image: Lateral Office

From the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, we catch up with Alexandros Washburn, and industry professor of design and Founding Director of the Coastal Resilience and Urban Excellence program. The aim is to tackle both resilience to extreme events and quality of life in cities.  His recent book, The Nature of Urban Design, reveals how change is an opportunity and how urban design can help.

We talk about some of the underpinnings making The Highline a successful revitalization, one of the many projects Alexandros was involved with as the former Chief Urban Designer under Mayor Blumberg in New York City. We hear how the Athenian Oath, “Leave the city better than you found it,” fosters resilience.

Flooding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, courtesy of Eric Gregory, The Nature of Urban Design


Everyplace is an Ecological Place, courtesy of Alexandros Washburn, The Nature of Urban Design


Events of note:

d.talks Let’s talk about…Getting Around - Thursday, April 3rd

MakeCalgary Healthy Symposium – Friday, April 11th

#33 city-shapers

March 4th, 2014

Who makes the city? Is it resilient? Is it connected? Diverse? And if so…what human acts shape the character of an urban environment? This episode of space+place explores individual moves by those who make the city.


Elke Krasny shares how self-initiated acts to reclaim space have stitched together immigrants, citizens, planners, and just about any diverse community. Studying informal settlements, and fruit and vegetable gardening, we see how simple acts made by individual citizens have lead to big change. The exhibition Hands-On Urbanism: How to Make a Difference is at Urbanspace Gallery in Toronto through March 15th. Read more:  Hands-on Urbanism 1850-2012.

Hands-On Urbanism; Ma Po Po Farm, Ma Shi Po Village, Hong Kong. Photo by Shu-Mei Huang


Next, Naomi Potter threads together three exhibitions at the Esker Foundation that explore our built environment. Featuring images of teenagers in non places and a Brutalist housing complex in Naples called Le Vele di Scampia, the work of Tobias Zielony reveals the balancing act between everyday experience and architecture. Without judgement, without confrontation, the images capture “hanging out”.


Installation view of Vele: Tobias Zielony. Esker Foundation 2014. Photo: John Dean.

We also discuss Peter von Tiesenhausen, the Alberta-based artist who copyrighted his property in 1995 in a move of defense from a pending pipeline. His Floodplain is made of reclaimed MDF. Cedric Bomford’s photographs of concrete air vents from the Prague metro system round out the conversation. Each of the three exhibitions explore material, power and place. Don’t miss a talk by Chaseten Remillard called The Gendered City, that is expected to explore gentrification, suburbanization and identity construction as a response to the urban.

Peter von Tiesenhausen, Floodplain, 2013. Photo: John Dean.


And finally, we head to New York where Stephen Duncombe describes what’s behind a call for proposals called Designing for Free Speech. The competition is organized by Theatrum Mundi, a collective of urbanists, architects, planners…but also performing and visual artists. Together they seek to stimulate discussion about practices spanning stage and street. Cities involved in this provocation where art and urbanism meet include: London, New York, Frankfurt, Berlin, Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro.  Theatrum Mundi is a term that sociologist Richard Sennett wrote about in his book, The Fall of Public Man (1977),  as a way to understand street life in terms of social connection. Sennett is an advisor to Theatrum Mundi, the organization.

Duncombe describes the issues around the design of public space, both in terms of  physical attributes and performative interventions. Our conversation ends with an ever-so-brief discussion on the library.

Designing for Free Speech, poster by: Jacob Ford.


Events of note:

PFS Studio at Design Matters on Wednesday March 5th

Safe and Smooth – March 13, 14th with Pieter de Haan and a workshop called City Surgery

Chasten Remillard – Gendered Cities – March 29th - Esker Foundation 3-4pm


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