A NATIONAL STUDIO PROJECT | UN PROJET NATIONAL D'ATELIERS
University of British Columbia
Sophie Maguire, Adjunct Professor of Landscape Architecture
SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE + LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
MASTER OF LANDSCAPE ACHITECTURE PROGRAM
LARC 503 / 504
A desert here in Canada, did you know? Home to the antelope brush and fragrant sage, semi-desert. An expanse that is as unforgiving as it is dreamily soft. You may have heard of it, the ‘pocket desert’ where the vineyards are vast and golf courses aplenty. Where the fruit is sweet and Boston Pizza’s status is ‘very busy’. RV destination for the entirety of summer, ATV action equals freedom. There’s a rub here, a tension building in the full exposure of the sun. ‘NO NATIONAL PARK’ read the signs. Wet luxury, hard stop, recommended preservation, soft pause.
It is said that it takes about 20 years to bring a national park to fruition. The southern Okanagan has been at it for 10 years. The national park ‘national park reserve’ will bring more visitors (say the feds), but tourism already reigns supreme along the coast of the warmest lake in British Columbia. Many travel here; honeymooners taking in the views of rolling vineyard properties, snowbirds driving south to escape the winters. Many retire here; the warm dry air is said to be good for the lungs and the bones. Timing is different here. There is an allure to the desert; the vastness of the void has long captivated indigenous peoples, settlers, artists and, now, festival junkies. But what comes of this allure when the footprint of luxury and production intensifies? What happens to the myth of the desert?
People want to live and play here, people want to feel free. Excuse me if this is crass,
but what must we abandon when we demand freedom?