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What could our cities look and feel like if we kept the sensory experience and local ecology in mind when we design and manage urban environments? I have the sneaking suspicion that they would be be happier and healthier places to live.

Designing in a more holistic way is well within our reach and it just requires us to collaborate more across sectors and disciplines. It’s in this vein that our McGill Sounds in the City team, in collaboration with the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), Laval University and the Direction de la Santé Publique de Montréal, brought together professionals (urban planners, sound professionals, health professionals, engineers, designers, elected officials, researchers, etc.) from the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors for an afternoon participatory workshop to collaborate on ways to help our cities sound better. Multidisciplinary teams shared their expertise and experiences with one another as they worked to improve the sound environments on three different case studies: 1.) a quiet zone park area being disrupted by construction; 2.) a high rise building being constructed adjacent to an artery; and 3.) a residential area undergoing significant commercial development. New connections were formed amongst the participants, which we hope will seed interesting future collaborations.

Our urban populations will continue to increase and we can no longer afford to work in isolation if we want to tackle system challenges our cities face now and in the future. As Buckminster Fuller put it, “We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.”

Our July 9th McGill participatory workshop was hosted by ÉTS and also created in partnership with the Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux (MSSS) and the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC).

Presenting at SidLee Architecture with McGill colleague Daniel Steel. (March 1, 2019, Montréal, Canada).

Presenting at SidLee Architecture with McGill colleague Daniel Steel. (March 1, 2019, Montréal, Canada).

Recently, my Sounds in the City McGill colleague Daniel Steele and I were at SidLee Architecture to discuss the advantages of bringing sound into the conversation when we design public spaces and places. Sound is sometimes an afterthought in architecture, design and planning, and we illustrated the advantages of thinking more proactively about how things will sound in addition to how they will look and feel. We are multi-sensorial creatures, so it surely makes sense to keep all of the senses in mind as we conceptualize and design urban environments. Thanks to Jason goorts and SidLee Architecture for making this possible. It was fun!
Presenting at SidLee Architecture with McGill colleague Daniel Steel. (March 1, 2019, Montréal, Canada).

Presenting at SidLee Architecture with McGill colleague Daniel Steel. (March 1, 2019, Montréal, Canada).

Art of Cities Conference, Vancouver, May 24-26, 2017 (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Art of Cities Conference, Vancouver, May 24-26, 2017 (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Had a fantastic visit with CityStudio to learn how their innovation hub is collaborating with City staff, faculty, students, and community to co-create experimental projects to make Vancouver a more sustainable and enjoyable city. A big thank you to the CityStudio founders Duane Elverum and Janet Moore, the CityStudio staff, students and alum, as well as the University Faculty members and City staff for sharing your stories and giving us such a warm welcome to Vancouver.

Jeanie Morton, Janet Moore and Duane Elverum share their story. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Jeanie Morton, Janet Moore and Duane Elverum share their story. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Many fruitful group discussions during the Art of Cities Conference in Vancouver. (Photo: CityStudio)

Many group discussions during the Art of Cities Conference in Vancouver. (Photo: CityStudio)

Jeanie Morton explains how she plays matchmaker between CityStudio, Faculty, City staff, Community organizations and students. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Jeanie Morton explains how she plays matchmaker between CityStudio, Faculty, City staff, Community organizations and students. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Mayor Gregor Robertson gave us a warm welcome. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Mayor Gregor Robertson gave us a warm welcome. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Mayor Gregor Robertson shows his support for how  CityStudio is enhancing the city of Vancouver. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Mayor Gregor Robertson shows his support for how CityStudio is enhancing the city of Vancouver. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Lunch meetings with City staff and University faculty to discuss their involvement with CityStudio. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Lunch meetings with City staff and University faculty to discuss their collaborative projects with CityStudio. (Photo: Christine Kerrigan)

Learning from one another in break-out sessions. (Photo: CityStudio)

Learning from one another in break-out sessions. (Photo: CityStudio)

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Sandstorm by Marco Casagrande, Photo by Nikita Wu

Really nice use of natural light in this architectural installation by Marco Casagrande in Wenduine, Belgium. For more info and photos, check out this article in ArchDaily.

 

I’ve watched this classic film by Ray and Charles Eames several times over the years, and somehow it never gets old. Made in 1977 with only a fraction of the technology we have today, it still captures the essence of how complex and fascinating our universe really is.

Since a bit more than one fourth of the Netherlands is below sea level, we often forget how human interventions and machines (dams, pumps, etc.) have changed the natural landscape and altered the interaction between people and nature. Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team at Studio Roosegaarde created Waterlicht, an installation of wavy lines of light composed of LEDs, software, lenses and steam machines to create a virtual flood and simulate waves and currents passing overhead. The installation is an interesting reminder of the delicate and constantly evolving interaction between humans and nature.

Waterlicht has been on display at the Museumplein from May 11-13, 2015. It was originally commissioned by the Dutch Water Board and was previously displayed in the flood channel of the River IJssel near Westervoort.

WaterLicht

The Future is Cities

The Future is Cities


I’m glad we’re moving more toward sharing and co-ownership of possessions slowly but surely (Uber, AirBnB, Bixi/Hubway, co-working spaces, etc.). It’s a win win for society and the planet without a doubt. As stats show, our cities will be accommodating exponentially larger population as we move forward and the numbers are only expected to continue to climb. Since we can teach our toddlers to get past the “Mine!” phase, I’m confident that we can too. Here’s a good read: The Future is Cities.

Winter Sun

Winter_Sun_2

Winter_Sun_3

Montrealers may well appreciate this type of installation smack dab in the middle of January or February (or even April at the rate we’re going). The following text is from the site inhabitat (Winter Sun art installation brings warmth and light to King’s Cross in London, by Lucy Wang, 12/08/14)

“Artists James Bowthorpe and Kim Coleman collaborated with architect Andrew Lock to design Winter Sun, a ‘hearth’-like art installation that doubles as a public gathering space with an open-air bar. The temporary structure illuminates the area with twelve glowing ‘suns’ that change brightness to emulate natural light.

An open-air bar located at the heart of the structure serves up hot and cold cocktails made from locally-sourced ingredients such as honey and winter fruits. Everything from the design of the bar to the uniforms fit the sunlight concept and was created using exposed light-sensitive materials.

“Humans used to celebrate mid-winter as the time of the year when the earth is furthest from the sun, anticipating its glorious return,” say the designers. “Winter Sun is a dose of man-made sun in the dark of winter.” The twelve glowing lights surrounding the public space endlessly dim and brighten to emulate the sun at different phases, such as daybreak or full sun. The installation was accompanied with a series of small themed events including Sun Printing and Shadow Shape making.”

LeGrandBalletI recently spotted a very cool project by Lucion Media for the Grands Ballets Canadiens. The dance company sponsored a fund raiser to help support their move to a new building, and Lucion Media created large scale projections for the occasion. The dancers appear on screen in wooden crates and become part of the visualization of the move. Very clever indeed!
 

Grands Ballets Canadiens – Projection holographique et performance artistique—Holographic projection and stage performance from Lucion Média on Vimeo.

Pixel – extraits from Adrien M / Claire B on Vimeo.

I just love the work of choreographer Mourad Merzouki and his dance troop Company Kafig. I was lucky enough to see their show “Agwa” last year in Boston and I SO wish PIXEL was coming to Montréal!