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:
#45: sacred capital (May 6, 2015)
Hear Zita Cobb, Todd Saunders, and Sam Oboh.


#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.

#43 between the lines

March 3rd, 2015

Today’s show explores interpretation. How do we observe our built environment? What do we miss? Why do we build? Sometimes, its the small things that make a difference in our environment. They’re right there, we just need to look. Creating “place” requires more than putting a building on the grid and seeing what’s left. Martin Arfalk describes what the Swedish landscape architecture and urban design firm, Mandaworks, takes seriously: the interpretation of space and the activities that can be instigated. Manda, in a meta sort of way, is a design language, but it’s also a lens to look more critically at a call for design, allowing different disciplines of design to more fluidly approach a problem. How people interact is part of the interpretation of space.

Inside_Outside Vaasa, image courtesy of Mandaworks

Osterport Orebro, image courtesy of Mandaworks

Iker Gil, Editor of the critical design journal MAS Context, explains an issue dedicated to the ordinary in design. An architect and also the director of MAS Studio in Chicago, his practice is on the lookout for what design might offer that’s not exactly in stated in the design brief. He sites Rojkind Arquitectos’ propensity for designing spaces for other things to happen. He’s interested in an architecture that traverses a glass ceiling of “service”, and seeks work that extends the brief. Appreciating what’s in plain sight but potentially overlooked is the approach. Iker Gil’s recent exhibition, Inside Marina City,expressed the experience of Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City towers from the perspective of the inhabitants.

MAS Context Ordinary split run cover. Lettering by Nick Adams, Chicago, 2014 © MAS Context

MAS Context Ordinary spread. Text and photographs by Michal Ojrzanowski, Chicago, 2014 © MAS Context

MAS Context Ordinary spread. Domestic Hats installation by Jennifer Bonner at The Goat Farm Arts Center, Atlanta © Patrick Heagney

Jimenez Lai  describes his recent work, an exhibition and series of individual pamphlets by 14 emerging architects. Called Treatise, Why Write Alone? this exploration into conceptual, discursive practice features architects engaged in the pursuit of understanding motivations that underlie a reason to build something. Jimenez Lai is the leader of Bureau Spectacular and is also the author of the respected architectural graphic novel, Citizens of No Place.

Andrew Kovacs, "Guggenheim Helsinki Model," 2014. Found objects. 48 x 96 x 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

SPEEDISM (Pieterjan Ginckels), Film still from "TWO-FACED MF EASY RIDE," 2015. Dual-channel video installation, sound, fog. 6 mins 8 secs. Courtesy of the artists.


Bittertang (Michael Loverich & Antonio Torres), "Romulus & Remus: Succulent Piñata (detail)," 2010. Mixed media. 35 x 35 x 16 inches. Courtesy of the artists.

See Martin Arfalk – March 11th  – U of C downtown – 6pm (Design Matters)

#42 intelligence

February 4th, 2015

Installation view of "Beautiful Users." Photo: Matt Flynn 2014, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The late industrial designer Bill Moggridge remarked that “It doesn’t occur to most  people that everything is designed.” Bill’s GRiD Compass Computer, considered the world’s first laptop, is included in a show called Beautiful Users.

GRiD Compass Laptop Computer Prototype, 1981. Image: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The exhibition, at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and curated by Ellen Lupton, identifies the lineage of user-friendly design. What started with military engineer research, industrial designers Henry Dreyfuss, Niels Different, and Alvin R. Tilley brought the computation of the human body to product design after World War II. The exhibition reveals process, influences, and even a move to incorporate the direct participation of users into the design. Beautiful Users catalogue can be found here.

The Measure of Man, image courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

APOC park interior. Photo: Boris Castellanos for IK Studio

Architects Simon Kim and Mariana Ibañez of IK Studio take another approach to intelligence, exploring the embodied intelligence in surface and form to realize an augmented architecture. Stable geometries might instead adapt to need, to a site, and to the environment.

Modular Architecture, the POLYhouse. image: IK Studio

The POLYhouse is designed as a series of modular chains that can be linked together to create a courtyard or even a tower. In the process, buildings that move on demand might be possible. An early collaboration with Carbon Dance explores cybernetics and movement in the creation of a responsive environment. In the book, Paradigms in Computing, Ibañez explores architecture through the lens of computing, wondering how architecture might reach beyond the boundaries of buildings and cities.

4-2-1 House by IK Studio


events of note:

Design Matters – Sujit Nair – February 4th  – U of C downtown – 6pm

BaconFest – My Brooklyn – February 11th – Calgary Central Library – 6pm

Design Matters – IK Studio – February 18th – U of C downtown – 6pm


#41 art in place

January 7th, 2015


Future Station, image: Kristy Trinier

Kristy Trinier, a curator at the Art Gallery of Alberta, identifies threads of locality in the upcoming 2015 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art. Finding an unfinished underground downtown transit station in Edmonton as metaphor for contemporary artistic practice in the province, our discussion moves between representation and the adaptation of practice to place. Future Station was intended as a stop on the light rail transit line. Instead, it’s a platform encased within a concrete barrier. Daily commuters pass through without the awareness of the station’s existence. Similarly, the Biennial draws attention to artistic practice that is veiled in the overlooked gaze. While at the AGA, don’t miss the photography exhibition, Suburbua: A Model Life.

Oh, Canada, artist: Kelly Mark


Oh, Canada, artist: May Evans


The seed for the exhibition Oh, Canada was sewn, curiously, in Massachusetts. What art was the nation with the world’s second largest landmass producing? Denise Markonish, a curator at MASS MoCA, was convinced that there was more to the Canadian contemporary art scene and headed north, visiting 400 artist studios. The exhibition, featuring 60 Canadian artists under a nine square-metre roof, was an early unravelling of preconception that artmaking is bound to established centres.  Oh, Canada was recognized for it’s exploration into cultural identity and sense of place. Opening in Calgary on January 31st, the exhibition will be shared among four institutions: The Esker Foundation, the Illingsworth Kerr Gallery, the Glenbow Museum, and the Nickle Galleries.


Calgary Biennial, anonymous, Things are going to get worse before they get even worse


Calgary Biennial, artist: Steven Beckley

And finally, we narrow the gaze to the city of Calgary, where a guerrilla biennial under the moniker The Calgary Biennial takes place.Titled Atlas Sighed and curated by artist Steven Cottingham, the exhibition features a dozen works venturing into the pubic realm. Brittany Bear Hat uses the medium of the billboard to unveil place as it relates to identity. Yvonne Mullock and Mia Rushton’s medium is a classified ad, and Steven Beckley’s images will occupy a bus shelter. Regardless of medium, the works provoke pointedly at the social implications of success. Works question not only our relationship with capital and with public space, but also how place is implicated in a search for an embrace of the alternative.

Of interest:

Design Matters – Rick Joy - Jan 7th

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