A NATIONAL STUDIO PROJECT | UN PROJET NATIONAL D'ATELIERS 2021-22
University of Calgary

SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, PLANNING, AND LANDSCAPE

MLA GRADUATE PROGRAM

LAND 604  | LANDSCAPE STUDIO I

WINTER 2022

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Tawab Hlimi
Assistant Professor

Tawab Hlimi is an assistant professor in landscape architecture and planning at the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture Planning and Landscape and a licensed landscape architect in the province of Ontario. He teaches design studios in landscape architecture and planning, and courses on green infrastructure and digital drawing. Through critical practices of teaching, research, and design, Tawab’s interests are three‐fold; firstly to render the discipline and practice of landscape architecture visible and meaningful by restoring its roots with the fine arts; secondly to render the practice of landscape architecture relevant in addressing the wicked environmental challenges of the 21st century by appropriating design methods and thinking from the fields of civil engineering and ecology; and lastly to harness the potential of emerging digital tools in visualization to augment the capacity of the human imagination.

Tanya Goertzen
Sessional Instructor

Tanya Goertzen is a landscape architect and visual artist that strives to create people-first places and pieces that engage people, and has been an advocate for inclusive design throughout her career. She has extensive experience in public spaces, community master planning, streets, educational grounds, healthcare facilities, and mixed-use projects. As a landscape architect and principal of People Places Design Inc, her mission is to put empathy for people at the centre of design. Her project implementation style is thoughtful, thoroughly considering user needs as well as constructability and longevity through all levels of design and construction administration. As a visual artist, she transforms deep personal emotion into empowering visual experiences through murals, abstract painting, fibre art, and public art.  She uses art and landscape architecture as platforms for the study of the human condition; each practice enriching the delight of the other.

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STUDIO BRIEF

Background


It is not easy to reduce the linear strip of land wedged between the Bow River and the inner‐city communities of Sunnyside and Hillhurst to one particular definition. It is simultaneously a landscape of movement, a landscape of defense, and a landscape of memory. As a landscape of movement, multiple modes and tempos of movement such as walking, cycling, and driving define an integrated recreational and commuter corridor. As a landscape of defense, it is best understood in cross‐section as a fortified embankment, resisting the river’s intrusion into the city, while repelling runoff from the city into the river via stormwater outfalls, with the objective of protecting communities settled on the low‐lying floodplain. As a landscape of memory, an archipelago of symbolic trees, memorials, and public spaces along the corridor pay homage to the fallen soldiers of WWI.

 


Creative Destruction


In recent history, a number of critical events have challenged the forms, functions, and meanings, which presently define the Bow riverfront. In June 2013, rapidly melting snowpack in the Rocky Mountains in combination with heavy rainfall precipitated a breach of the Bow River’s embankments, catastrophically inundating the communities of Sunnyside and Downtown Calgary, and revealing the inadequacy of the river’s embankments to resist a perfect combination of snowmelt and heavy rainfall. In late 2019, public health mandates of social distancing prompted by the global COVID19 pandemic disrupted indefinitely the long held spatial separation of work and home. With decreasing commuter flows to and from downtown, and increasing social distancing requirements for people in public places, Memorial Drive, a four‐lane arterial road bounding the northern edge of the Bow riverfront was reduced spatially and functionally to a local street, surrendering two lanes to the growing traffic of socially‐distanced pedestrians and cyclists. The benefits of reduced noise and air pollution and improved connectivity between the riverfront and the community of Sunnyside mobilized a community lead movement advocating for the permanent reduction of Memorial Drive, a prospect that the City of Calgary will explore
through a formal study. Lastly, the unraveling of the COVID19 pandemic revealed the disproportionate exposure of racialized communities to the COVID19 virus, debunking the myth that “we are all in this together”, and adding fuel to the mobilization of resistance movements such as Black Lives Matter and Truth and Reconciliation. In the Western Canadian context, the harrowing discovery of the unmarked graves of hundreds of indigenous children on the grounds of former residential schools brought into the public consciousness a hidden history and suppressed memories. Pop‐up memorials of children’s shoes and orange t‐shirts emerged across the city, including Memorial Drive, bringing into question notions of reconciliation a the selective memory of a settler society represented by the monuments to the soldiers lost WWI on Memorial Drive and the Bow riverfront.

 


Critical Questions


Given the creative insights which have emerged from critical disruptions, the charge of this design studio is to project the future of the Bow riverfront through the lens of reconciliation. Can the relationship between the city and the river be transformed through a new flood wall or embankment from constrictive to expansive, in order to accommodate the river’s natural processes? Can the ratio of space dedicated to motorized and non‐motorized movements along the riverfront become more equitable? Under the scenario of Memorial Drive as a local street with at‐grade crossings, do the pedestrian and cyclist bridges crossing over Memorial Drive become obsolete? How is ‘memory’ represented and experienced along this corridor? Can the ‘selective memory’ of the colonial paradigm be reconciled with the ‘suppressed memories’ of the emerging paradigm of decolonization? How can new functions and recovered meanings representative of the values of a changing society be woven into the existing forms, spaces, and aesthetic experiences of a new riverfront?

 
STUDENT WORK
 
Afrin Islam
Connecting to Bow River

This project aims to connect & give access to the Bow River’s edge that captures the spirit of the place and enhances the multisensory experience by creating interesting moments of pathways and gateways which are kinds of thresholds that will transfer people from one realm to another. New Berms with the old one creates palimpsests embedded in this series of berms that not only represent the different standard for flood mitigation over time but also gives the essence of the place by relating various aspects of the landscape to each other. Berms also act as an edge in the setting of moods to the entry points and reconnect residents to the natural environment and support biodiversity. Resolving conflict between cyclists and pedestrians by widening & separating the lanes has also been considered for each moment. The design process started with mapping down the degree of visual & physical permeability along the pathway that affects our sensory experience at certain viewpoints following Gordon Cullen’s Serial vision. These visual experiences are fundamentally the product of interesting river geomorphology: deposition and erosion. Each of the five moments in the riparian zone, Soldier Memorial, 7th Street Crossing, Sunny Beach, and riprap zone, encourage people to focus on this immersive experience of the integrated spaces juxtaposed with human interventions and plant communities. Site-specific design has been proposed for choreographing informal pathways with a soft approach that allows control and freedom. All the 5 moments have been designed in terms of a picture plane, emphasizing the depth of the plane through the composition of color, texture, and materials that are already there. Pathways start in the foreground which becomes aesthetically pleasing as the background is embellished by contrast or juxtaposition of Corten steel gateway, platforms, or steps that reveal the wide river view evoking emotive aspects of the moments. A sense of continuity has been maintained along with the site by amplifying the contemplative experience that blends with the landscape.

 
Daniel Cote
 
Diba Mohebzadeh
The Unseen; The Third Perspective

Landscape Architecture is the blend of aesthetic, social, and ecological fundamentals as one element, which some may have remained in their preserved nature. In the ecological fundamentals, the third landscape is a space unattended by man and ruled over by natural evolution, such as untouched spaces that remained in their natural state. While considering the social values, the third view of point focuses on the existing elements that could be activated by receiving feedback based on interviews and research which could be implemented to act as a catalyst to activate the selected pocket sites for the public need.


"Unseen" is an adjective that means not seen or notified. It marks the "visible" invisible matters which may have been forgotten in today's design society such as the unseen side of the human and the landscape. Based on the census data of 2012, the city of Calgary had a population of 940,950 people with a 9. 7% disability prevalence out of which 38. 7% are categorized as severe or very severe disabled. Today Calgary has a population of 1.3 million with only 4 parks equitable for all. While analyzing the landscape in our previous submission, the site consists 85% of its area is at the risk of future floods and informal pathways formed by visitors followed by a lack of signage, amenities, and uneven paving slope and patterns. 


Unseen focuses on creating meaningful connections between the community and the river by providing amenities such as an elevated berm hosting miniature gardens, elevated pathways, moments of pause, tactical forests (braille signage) and stop pull-outs, bathrooms, sitting areas, fire pit, local shops, vernacular planting and a sense of walking on water for all the seasons for every individual in this society. With the hope that one day, more designs will focus on the invisible aspects of life and more on the small gestures that make the heart smile. 

 
Erin Schwab
Eruptions, Disruptions, and Reverberations

Our project site is along the north bank of the Bow River between the communities of Sunnyside and Hillhurst along Memorial Dr. Initial impressions of the site revealed layers built up over years of reactive flood interventions, artifacts and ribbons of infrastructure that facilitate the tides of people and flow of water, a hierarchy of memory and memorials against a shifting ecosystem. While addressing the immediate need to protect the communities along the river, the intent of my design is to also address the relationship between the community and the river it desires to be protected from.


There is a disconnect. There is an undercurrent of memory and a desire to pause and reflect but the current pedestrian and traffic flow has been designed to move people fast and efficiently through the site with little no formal areas of pause. My design intent is attempting to reconcile these repeated dualities throughout the site. Dualities of access to and protection from, a desire for ease of movement against the memories that insist we stop and grapple with how we crawl over them.


After collecting forms that reverberate throughout the community and site, I distilled them down to a few words and shapes that are further refined within each of the 5 moments.

 
Eti Borah
The Bow Riverfront: Landscape of Movement, Defense, and Memory

Amidst the expansive urban sprawl, it is essential to bring back the importance of the ecology and balance between the urban and natural landscape. The Bow Riverside has several spots which are neglected or are uncredited. These locations have become unsafe environments and mundane places and seek to be transformed.


The ‘Point of Convergence’ aims to reconnect the disconnected entities, the urban and the natural landscape, and activate these lost spaces. A set of interventions are selectively curated as per the site context, to reveal the essence or spirit of the place and unfold certain feelings of appreciation, contemplation, and retrospection within the users.


Priority is given to the circulation of people as they move through the site, encouraging people to approach nature on foot. Lines, spaces, and forms of the site are selected rationally to emphasize them. The usage of the spaces with both active and passive recreational activities is omnidirectional and not just working parallel with the Bow River to make it multifaceted. Plants are selected as per the riparian species to maintain homogeneity with the rest of the site. The motive is to retain what is already there. The Bow River has been used as a backdrop and as the focal point for the moments to bring back the picturesque. As the riparian forest is very dynamic in nature, the boardwalks are used as a gauge to visualize the difference in the water and land pattern all year round.
The design aims to unfasten from the impeding city traffic and dive into the depth of a riverine landscape to help disconnect and reconnect with the memory which was once known.