LARC 540 - SITE ANALYSIS + PLANNINIG
ASSIGNMENT 1 - LIFE-CYCLE OF A POUF
Tracking a product’s life-cycle across the world and calculating the emissions proved to be a challenging task. It’s almost as if billion-dollar corporations don’t want us to know what’s going on. When searching through data and company websites, I was met with a lot of ambitious promises of net-zero emissions by some year that would realistically be too late. Nonetheless, the information I did find that led me to my conclusion and calculations was rather staggering.
The start of my process was relatively simple. First, I was able to look back at the tracking information to find each city the package’s bar-code was scanned. Next, I made (probably too many) inferences and guesses about where the materials originated. Scholarly papers and scientific articles led me to conclude about the relative emissions at each step. As for the transportation, I used a carbon calculator to input the type of vehicle or fuel consumption and overall distance to produce a value. That is the short version, and realistically, it was a lot of head-scratching and intense google wormholes
In the Knox and Pinch (2010) reading, the author emphasizes that the materiality of cultures, or the objects we use as a society, give us insights into our value system. This concept was particularly relevant when I was researching cargo ships. The insane carbon emission value for one single trip from India to the US says a lot about how little we think our material objects are related to environmental decline. Although my pouf didn’t emit that big number on its own, I believe that number says something more significant about how much or how little value we place on the products we buy. As landscape designers, we are consumed by finding the best way to fit a bioswale into our garden, thinking we’re making this meaningful impact on climate change. In one of our readings, McHarg (1981) said “many persons and institutions may satisfy the definition of health by seeking and solving problems but still succumb to disease and death from causes of which they were ignorant”, which I think sums up my frustration a lot more eloquently.
I found it challenging to sift through data about emissions, probably because I am not well-versed in chemistry or math. However, I think this process was relatively successful. Although it is not perfectly mathematical or accurate, it still provided me with a shocking perspective into transportation science and some of the largest carbon contributors that go unnoticed in my everyday life. If I were to tweak this process, I would try to have conversations with individuals and ask them to directly answer my questions instead of sifting through Reddit comments or “sustainability” pages on manufacturers’ websites.
All the scientific jargon and empty promises made me think about how inaccessible information is to the general public. I understand the importance of scientific research and papers, but how was it so impossible for me to get a clear understanding of carbon emissions affecting something so relevant to my life. I was internally yelling at my computer, saying “stop dancing around the subject, tell me how bad it is and what you’re going to do about it.” Additionally, I think there was a degree of confirmation bias in my process, as I searched for headlines that I thought would help me prove some point. In conclusion, this project confirmed my anti-capitalist standpoint, and next time I’d like to more explicitly break down this bias and approach this project from a different lens. I wonder, if I had intended to disprove that the shipping industry was a massive carbon contributor, if it would yield a different result.
ASSIGNMENT 2 - PROTEST GOES AWRY
A perfect day for a site visit; numerous forms of protest and push-back occurring in one day. Falun Dafa practitioners, anti-vaccine protesters, and a pro-marijuana semi-rave. A police officer on a bike asked if we were here for any particular reason. I informed him that I was studying protest, and he told me I came on a good day. Throughout the visit, I paid less attention to the messages shared by any of the forms of protest on-site, but found myself interested in how passersby walked quickly past or stopped to look. I also found it interesting to note where the police parked themselves to supervise. They seemed to be nonchalant and talking amongst themselves, occasionally biking across the main space. Strangely enough, I found myself preparing for the worst, wondering what would happen if someone got angry or people exploded in panic.
I shifted my analysis and graphic representation to explore what would happen if something did go awry. I walked around a few blocks surrounding the site, searching for places of refuge where protesters could hide and avoid arrest. I concluded that the most probable space would be in parkades, but I also noted transit stops, alleyways, parks, and bike rentals in the vicinity. I roughly counted windows on the surrounding towers to show views into the space and graphically represent the power dynamic between the financial district and the plaza. “During the Occupy movement, the juxtaposition of financial towers created a stark contrast to the tents and people that gathered to protest social and economic inequality” (SALA, 2016). If I could do this analysis again, I would have liked to spend more time on-site to count the number of people who stop and engage with or look at the protesters. I think the engagement on the street is as critical as the visual engagement from the towers.
I ended up exploring a more diagrammatic approach while trying to remain relatively spatial. I used grasshopper to populate the 2D ground space by the art gallery and then 3D space around the city with the average number of protesters over the past few years. The 3D population of people on the top layer represents an explosion of people throughout the city, as everyone disperses but avoids police blockades. Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage by Kurgan made some strong points that paralleled my analysis. For example, the author writes: “While Human Rights Watch focuses on the precise shape of the impact sites and the weapons used, it is also important to look at what surrounds the circles – the areas contiguous to the damaged sites – in order to ask questions on an urban scale” (Kurgan, 2017). I found this to be extremely relevant in how I approached this project in that the urban scale and street network can be as crucial of an analysis as the site itself. I believe any spatial consideration for downtown Vancouver in the future must take into account the dispersal or marches of protesters around this space, and access To transit or places of refuge. I think the dispersal analysis was successful, encouraging a more robust consideration of flows, access, entrances and exit routes. As someone with anxiety, I am always thinking about exit routes and worst-case scenarios, which helped me think more critically about dispersal and escape. The most challenging part was deciding what would be a good escape point, mainly because I have never needed to run from the police. I learned a lot about why this space is so successful for protests at the plaza scale and a broader multi-block scale.
ASSIGNMENT 3 - PANDEMIC SEASON 2... COMING SOON
Growing up, almost everyone I knew in Winnipeg lived in single-family-style homes in a primarily single-family neighbourhood. For that reason, I’ve had virtually no exposure to multi- generational living. Thinking about a housing typology for a concept you have little to no understanding of is extremely difficult. However, after doing plenty of research and looking at precedents like the Warden Hilltop Village concept by Sustainable (2020), I was able to grasp a sense of what is needed for multi-generational housing to be successful and made additional provisions that I thought would protect the people inside from a future pandemic. While having a rudimentary understanding of the needs of these vulnerable communities, this process
made me think deeply about community consultation and the need to have our new housing developments respond directly to the communities they are meant to house. We simply can no longer propose housing developments that only have provision for 2% of their units to be 3-bedrooms or more (City of Vancouver, 2016), which are likely the units with rent costs these communities cannot afford.
Thinking about the expression of bedrooms as non-hierarchal in a home such as this was critical. I think this was successful as they have been represented as multiple sleep rooms of the same size and have been dispersed around the building on various floors with different aged folks inhabiting them. This may be one way we can push back against patriarchal hierarchal concepts, as Arturo Escobar says “...matriarchy is not defined by the predominance of women over men, but by an entirely different conception of life, not based on domination and hierarchies, and respectful of the relational fabric of all life” (Escobar, 2018). Also, I think that considering this home as not just a place to eat, sleep, and relax, but also for communal growing, feasting, and gathering (both indoor and semi-outdoor) would definitely be something vital to consider in other multi-generational homes moving forward. These aspects to the home may provide a better sense of community, rather than folks having to leave their apartment complex to gather in a detached community centre. The grow spaces (both semi-indoor and roof-gardens) and water cisterns were conceptualized to provide the community with the ability to self-sustain in the event of a pandemic, as we’ve seen panic-buying become a trend. The outdoor, single-person lift is meant to represent a far greater implementation of outdoor lifts that encourage individuals to access all these spaces while remaining safe. The two considerations I find to be the most convincing are the communal work-from-home space and the in-house ‘care’ facility. According to my research, those who did not have the resources to work from home or didn’t have access to proper healthcare felt the impacts of the [pandemic more severely (UN-Habitat, 2021). The ‘care’ facility could see the implementation of an in- house medical professional can ensure the community members are getting the proper care they need during a pandemic, whether that be COVID-testing or mental health care during these tough times, or assessing and connecting folks with the proper care they need outside of the home.
For the map of current and needed greenspace, I think it makes a statement about what we prioritize in developments. To provide enough greenspace for today’s population, it would consume all of downtown Vancouver, let alone for the population of 2045. While Vancouver does have the goal that each person live within a 5-minute walk of a park or greenspace, I think it begs the question of quality over quantity. In this sense, I think my process could have included some analysis on the quality of greenspace or explored other ways to calculate it based on something other than area. How do we find ways to incorporate more green space without just sticking gardens on the roof of multi-million dollar condos that our Vancouverites under the median income level can’t access?
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