Space + Place

Space + Place
Hosted by amery Calvelli
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:
#48: everyday housing (September 3, 2015)
a discussion on affordability with Susanne Schindler, Tom Mellins, Sam Lubell, Danielle Rago, and Eric Tao.


#48 everyday housing

September 3rd, 2015

How do we define affordable housing? And what measures are some cities taking to encourage more of it?

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has placed housing affordability on his agenda with a 10-year plan to preserve or add 200,000 affordable units to his city’s five boroughs. Seattle’s Housing Task Force, under Mayor Murray has drafted a plan to upzone some single family housing, making room for affordable and market rate units. San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee has proposed a $250 million bond measure that, if voted in, would allow for 30,000 affordable units over 4-5 years. In addition, Mayor Lee announced a new $500 million plan for affordable housing, part of an ambitious $2.7 billion plan to fund affordable housing over two decades in the city.

Eric Tao, President of the real estate development group AGI Avant in San Francisco, is co-chairing the campaign for the $250 million affordable housing bond measure. Partnering with the campaign co-chairs Gabriel Metalf of SPUR and Gail Gilman of the Community Housing Partnership, Eric and team are working to raise awareness for housing need at all levels of affordability. Eric describes why a plan for middle-income earners is so essential to the overall affordability puzzle.

Last week in Los Angeles, the A+D Museum opened the show Shelter: Rethinking the Way We Live in Los Angeles. Curators Sam Lubell and Danielle Rago describe the premise behind the show including the six architects invited to address residential housing as a response to a changing city…a new Los Angeles, facing expanding population, higher land costs, and fresh access to transit. The residential proposals hail from MAD Architects, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Bureau Spectacular and PAR.

Backyard Basics: An Alternative Story of the Granny Flat by LA-Más courtesy of A+D Museum

We hear about a proposal for the Granny Flat by LA-Más as an affordable alternative that provides a bit of density and generated from resident-owned initiative. wHY proposes an alternative use of infrastructure along the Metro Purple Line, exploring preconceptions of ownership, funding and shared infrastructure.

UN FOLDING WILSHIRE by wHY courtesy of A+D Museum

UN \ FOLDING WILSHIRE by wHY courtesy of A+D Museum

We also discuss Michael Maltzan Architecture’s Star Apartments in the Skid Row neighbourhood, a transformation of a single-story commercial building into a mixed-use residential with 102 apartments for formerly homeless individuals. Nearby to this residence, the A+D museum has recently relocated downtown and Executive Director Tibbie Dunbar explains why.


Michael Maltzan Architecture Star Apartments, Downtown Los Angeles, 2014 © Iwan Baan courtesy of A+D Museum

Thomas Mullins,  describes the history of public housing initiatives in New York as part of the exhibition he created called Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy. The exhibition traces public housing initiatives for those in need, placing current plans, drawings and models within a context of more than a century dedicated to offering affordable alternatives of some kind. Examples of the tale of affordable housing includes photographs of housing from 1958, such as the Wagner Houses in East Harlem, and a New York City Housing Authority exhibition at the New York World’s Fair in 1939-1940.

Wagner Houses, East Harlem, Manhattan Completed: 1958 2,154 units Starrett & Van Vleck in association with Reginald E. Marsh Associates NYCHA. La Guardia and Wagner Archives, La Guardia Community College/The City University of New York, courtesy of the New York City Housing Authority

The NYCHA exhibit at the 1939-40 World's Fair, June 8, 1940 Photographer unknown. La Guardia and Wagner Archives, La Guardia Community College/The City University of New York, courtesy of the New York City Housing Authority

And finally, we speak with architect and writer Susanne Schindler about affordable housing initiatives and the role that architecture plays in fostering new models. Susanne’s research is focused on the intersection of policy and housing and she is part of a multi-year research project called House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate, an initiative that is exploring the link between architecture and real estate. Later this month, their work will be available in a report called The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing and Real Estate.


The Art of Inequality: Architecture, Housing and Real Estate, published by the Buell Center, Fall 2015.

There’s another exhibition on affordable housing at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, reviewing an experimental period in the 1970s where architects, working with local communities in Portugal, developed housing projects. The SAAL Process: Housing in Portugal 1974-76 is up until October 4th.


A summary of exhibitions:

Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy – Sept 18 – Feb 7, 2016

Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles – Aug 26 – Nov 6, 2015

House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate – ongoing

The SAAL Process: Housing in Portugal 1974-1976 – at the Canadian Centre for Architecture through October 4th.

#47 by the public, for the public

August 6th, 2015

Marres House for Contemporary Culture, a visual arts institution in Maastricht, is producing a large scale installation that will transform the gallery into a series of experiential rooms. Called The Relativity of Matter, the installation is a sensory exploration of place and built form as the audience moves through corridors and unique environments installed inside the gallery’s four walls. It’s designed by and rising artist Levi van Veluw and nominee for the Volkskrant Fne Art Prize 2015.  Filling a gap in sponsorship, the exhibition is supported by a crowdfunding campaign. Valentijn Byvanck, a critic and also the Director at Marres House of Contemporary culture, describes the work as well as the uniqueness of the crowdfunding engagement.

The Relativity of Matter installation, image: Marres


The Relativity of Matter image courtesy of Levi van Veluw / Marres

The Relativity of Matter image courtesy of Levi van Veluw / Marres

Moving next to Montreal, Fonderie Darling is a visual arts center inside an abandoned factory. Steel and iron were booming the 1880s, and the site is symbolic of Montreal’s industrial heritage. Today the foundry exhibits art, offers international artist residencies, and holds not to be missed street parties. Caroline Andrieux, Founder and Artistic Director of Fonderie Darling, describes a crowdfunding campaign to generate funds for an installation called Mirador that would be situated outside the gallery on the 6-metre strip of remaining sidewalk space on the street once the fire clearances have been accounted for. Le Collectif Acapulco is now at work on the installation. Caroline describes Fonderie Darling as a living organism, revealing how adaptation and social engagement within an “improving” neighbourhood keep the organization connected to its local public.

"Artwork Missing" Mirador, image: Fonderie Darling

Mirador, image: Alcapulco/Fonderie Darling

Outdoor installation at Fonderie Darling, image: Guy L'Heureux

And finally, Dan Barasch, co-founder and executive director of The Low Line, describes the daunting challenge he and his partner James Ramsey took on…developing a public park in an underground streetcar station. The Williamsburg Trolly Terminal, located under Delancy Street in Manhattan’s Lower Eastside and abandoned in the 1940s, is the site of the proposed park. Plantlife being key to the park idea, they needed to come up with a daylighting option that would bring sunlight to the underground terminal. Dan describes how the design has evolved and how two crowdfunding campaigns have contributed to public engagement.

So, while crowdfunding is hardly new, the democratic nature of the medium allows for art and amenities created for the public to be supported by the public.

The Low Line rendering via The Low Line


The current space courtesy of: The Lowline

how the technology works, courtesy of: The Lowline

note: The Relativity of Matter exhibition is taking reservations here for the viewing that will open in October. Mirador will open later this summer. The Low Line is producing a Lab for further research, development, neighbours are welcome.

#46 making process

July 8th, 2015

Labour, value, and the process of making is the topic of today’s show.

We begin with an installation at the Contemporary Calgary (through July 19th) called Three Withdrawl Movements for an ATM. Artist Dominique Pétrin spent 10 days pasting mosaic-like screen prints and collage pieces on the gallery walls, floors and flat surfaces. The process is improvisational and the work itself is in part a performance. The highly labour-intensive installation is paired with a copy of an ATM machine, pasted on the wall at the last minute, a gesture of implied labour questioning beauty, commerce and the ubiquity of products.


image courtesy of: M. N. Hutchinson and Contemporary Calgary

image courtesy of: M. N. Hutchinson and Contemporary Calgary

What meaning does the creative process hold? How does labour negotiate with the terms of production?

This is Work is an exhibition and online laboratory focused on the question of working conditions in a contemporary context. Sophie Rzepecky describes Fictional Collective as a group of 26 alumni of the Design Academy of Eindhoven Masters in Social Design that collaborate on research, exhibitions, and published work about design. Placing a lens on the economic value of creative production, Fictional Collective partnered with the Swiss gallery Depot Basel to generate four events and online discussions in the gallery. The work is published online at This is Work and explore the nature of work, economy, and the value of collaboration.

Fictional Collective Fragments of Ongoing Fiction photo: Heini Lehtinen

Fictional Collective This is Work photo by Matylda Krzykowski


Fictional Collective This is Work

Continuing the process thread, we move to the urban realm to hear how documenting change might reveal underpinning social values. David Schalliol is a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago Department of Sociology. His book, Isolated Building Studies, unveils social and economic change with photographs featuring last remaining buildings.  We speak about his social research and how the impartiality of a photograph can reveal the uncomfortable bits of change one building at a time. We also talk about his documentary film in development, an exploration into neighbourhood change and urban revitalization in Chicago. It’s called: The Area. (a trailer is linked.)

image courtesy of: David Schalliol

image courtesy of: David Schalliol

#45 sacred capital

May 6th, 2015

What identifies place? And, how does our built form meet with the local DNA? We begin the show with an interview with Zita Cobb, President and Founder of the Shorefast Foundtaion. A social entrepreneurial charity, the foundation is revitalizing the culture of an island north of Newfoundland called Fogo Island.  Rather than attracting jobs from an outside business, the foundation took an inventory of what Cobb refers to as “sacred capital”. And instead of a global business coming to the island, new jobs were created by developing artist residencies, a world-class Inn, and a micro-lending arm. The culture of the place, it turns out, was destined for hospitality. One of the happy benefits of the island’s reviatlization is furniture made on the island and sold across the nation and beyond…see Fogo Island Shop.

In the interview, Zita Cobb spoke about reductionism. Financial capital might be more more measurable but communities must seek out what they love. The cultural and artisitc fibre of a place, this is what to invest in. The money will follow.


Fogo Island Inn by Todd Saunders image courtesy of Brent Rene Synnevaag

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland-image courtesy of Alex Fradkin

Punt Chair - image courtesy of Steffen Jagenburg

One of Cobb’s early moves was to hire Norway-based architect Todd Saunders to design the artist residencies and the Fogo Island Inn. Born and raised near Fogo Island himself, Saunders welcomed the homecoming opportunity and took great care to touch gently the land that he knew so well. The process of working with the community armed former boat builders with new trades, helping to build the residencies and Inn while identifying with the local. Todd speaks about the outports, or the vernacular architecture balanced above the water on piers or “stages”. Sustainability, or designing with a light footprint, was integrated in the front end of the design so that a mechanical building was sized from the optimum roof siting necessary to rely on solar power.


Fogo Island Inn photo courtesy of Iwan Baan

Fogo Island Inn by Todd Saunders_image courtesy of Brent Rene Synnevaag


Long Studio by Todd Saunders Arch - image courtesy of Brent Rene Synnevaag


Squish Studio by Todd Saunders - image courtesy of Brent Rene Synnevaag

And finally, we speak with Sam Oboh, the President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Siting John Ruskin’s “The Seven Lamps of Architecture,” our conversation considers not only fairness and inclusivity as important, but also reveals how beauty is inherently connected to the civic significance of place.

The RAIC is hosting their annual Festival of Architecture in Calgary next month. To learn more about the advocacy for excellency in the built environment that this organization undertakes, visit: raic.org. This year’s theme is (RE)Generation + Integration.  A few events open to the public will also take place during the festival. For more information visit the RAIC Design Hub June 3-6th.

#44 more than buildings

April 10th, 2015

space + place #44 – more than buildingsWe explore the role of architecture as a response to the social and cultural fibre of a city. From the Museum of Modern Art in New York, we hear from the Curator of Contemporary Architecture, Pedro Gadanho, as he describes the current exhibition:  Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities. 

The show features design solutions that resulted from collaborative research and architectural practices seeking insight into the urban concerns of exploding population and inequality in cities. How might architecture respond to the physical and social injustice in a city? Some ideas are forward-thinking decades into the future with alternatives to energy, power, and water. There are islands of surplus junk, land trusts, and a local development bank. The exhibition is not short on alternatives. The result is a fresh look at design’s role in contributing to a pre-figured future for Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro.

Lagos Tomorrow. 2014. Water. Courtesy NLÉ and Zoohaus/Inteligencias Colectivas


Hong Kong Is Land. 2014. The Island of Surplus. Courtesy MAP Office


We also hear from the non-profit CoHabitation Strategies, a Rotterdam and New York based practice that is focused on the social relationships that influence the environments we inhabit. Researching the challenges to affordable housing, Miguel Robles-Duran and colleague Lucia Babina lay out the systemic complexities of the present day urban affordability.  Taking an approach they refer to as “socio-spatial”, their solutions reveal alternatives like Cooperative Housing Trusts or a review of the perceived value of land ownership.

The Other New York. 2014. Cooperative Housing Trusts. Collage on Masonite, 12 × 16 × 7/8″ (30.5 × 40.6 × 2.2 cm). Courtesy Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra)


The Other New York. 2014. Cooperative Housing Trusts. Collage on Masonite, 2 panels, each 24 × 18 × 7/8″ (61 × 45.7 × 2.2 cm). Courtesy Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra)


Lucia Babina also describes an earlier project she was part of, called The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour. It was a community garden and kitchen in Amsterdam that both filled a void in the built environment and served as example of informal movements in cities. Babina was part of the Wilde Westen group at the time, and the collaboration with artist/architect Marjetica potrc seeded the project that would serve meals and grow food in a community facing development transition.

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