Monthly MOV: Upcycled Urbanism

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PROVOKE, ENGAGE, ANIMATE. Our vision at the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) is to hold a mirror up to the city and lead provocative conversations about its past, present, and future. Linking the historical record and the living experiences of its visitors to what is happening socially, politically, and culturally NOW; we honour the material culture of the city: mixing history, archaeology, visual arts, design, architecture, urban planning, music, performance, new media, design, fashion, popular culture, and photography. Check us out on our blog, talk to us on Twitter, or stay up to date through Facebook.

Here at the MOV we’re always thinking about two things: Vancouver history, and ways in which the city is our artifact. Our newest series of programs are addressing the later and asking participants: Have you ever wished you could redesign and rebuild part of Vancouver? Maybe there’s not enough seating along the streets, or you feel it could be more playful.
Regardless of your background the city’s public spaces likely intrigue you, frustrate you, or make you want to build new things.

That’s where Upcycled Urbanism comes in.

The series of four workshops have been inviting Vancouverites to come together to reimagine their public spaces by getting hands on with prototypes of blocks to create the public spaces they wish they could see. No expertise necessary.

So far we’ve explored subjects like public hallucinations and the ways that space can be created to connect people (spaces outdoor beverages were suggested by some of our German visiting participants!).

The best part? Participants of the workshops will be coming back together in July for a huge design and build event in an outdoor public space. The prototypes that they’ve been working with (designed by SALA students) will be turned into giant polystyrene blocks made of materials salvaged from the construction of the Port Mann Bridge and then built into
real-life public spaces for the day.

With three workshops already behind us, this Sunday’s workshop (Surprise and juxtaposition in the public realm) is the last chance to get involved in a core build team.

Upcycled Urbanism is a collaboration between the MOV, UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the Vancouver Public Space Network, Maker Faire Vancouver, and Spacing Magazine.

How did Upcycled get started?

Upcycled Urbanism began as an idea and grew into a collaborative community effort.

Back in the summer of 2012, we mentioned MOV’s participatory design aspirations to Erick Villagomez, editor of Spacing
Vancouver
, and he suggested the perfect medium to make this dream come true: expanded polystyrene, or EPS. This material, sometimes incorrectly mistaken for Styrofoam, is super-light and easy to cut into shapes.

Best of all, said Erick, we have a local, green source for it! Langley-based Mansonville Plastics actually diverts blocks of used EPS bound for the landfill and grinds the stuff down in order to produce entirely new, usable blocks. (In 2012, Mansonville supplied the EPS filling for the wondrous Pop Rocks installation at Robson Square).

Mansonville generously offered to fabricate a mountain of blocks for the project. Then Spacing, Maker Faire Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Space Network, and UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) all came on board as partners.

SALA’s Bill Pechet put his design studio students to work creating EPS building block prototypes. And thanks to a small grant from the Vancouver Foundation, participants have been excitedly sharing their aspirations for Vancouver’s public space over the past three weekends.