Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Where's the Square?" design idea competition

If you did not already get the idea, I am an advocate for Vancouver's own public space/square/etc. Public squares are not only places for debate, or social change; they are also places where citizens socialize to foster a sense of community, to come together with or without purpose.

In 2008 (and lasting until September 2009), the Vancouver Public Space Network held "Where's the Square?", a design idea competition for Vancouver's own public square. Over 100 design teams signed up and a total of 54 entries were submitted, with the possibility of winning two awards: Jury's Selection and People's Choice.

Vancouverites were encouraged to submit their vote via online or at the various public events held during the competition.

The jury consisted of six members, including Lance Berelowitz, author of Dream City and Yosef Wosk, professor and director of the Interdisciplinary Programs in Continuing Studies at SFU.

The design that won the Jury Selection award was called "The Band." Submitted by Mark Ashby Architecture & Greenskins Lab, the concept was relatively simple: "To create a square specific to Vancouver, the traditional square is "unbundled" and reassembled in a linear space edged with public institutions. The combined public square is programmed sequentially by each institution in turn."

In other words, the public square would be a boardwalk-esque structure, connecting what the design team deemed to be some of Vancouver's essential institutions. The band would start at the intersection of Robson and Homer, then linking the VPL, the CBC, BC Place Stadium, the proposed new location for the VAG and finally to the False Creek seawall.

If you want to learn more about the competition, including information on the other winning designs, visit the Where's the Square? website.

Image from The Tyee


  1. Thanks for this, Melanie. I agree with you about the importance of civic public spaces. Like an audience for a performance, a random collection of bodies in a common space asks us to consider the ways we are obliged to each other beyond defined or chosen connections like family or nation or social milieu.

    Any idea if the plan will actually see the light of day?

  2. just to add onto Dr. Dickinson's comment...
    is that going to be the actual city square if we do get one...

  3. I am not sure. Vancouver can probably not afford any time or money to embark on a new project right now. "Where's the Square" was an idea competition, so I'm not sure if there will be any material results. If I find out anything else, I'll let you know!