The Dark Arts: A Future for Practitioners of Architecture
Michael Donaldson (Class of 2023) | Architecture
Entering the Realms of The Dark Arts. We have entered an era primed for extreme change driven by technology, political instability, climate change, and new means of communication. The world seems to be waiting for the imposition of some unimagined impact on our lives. The complex problems that dog our societies are all held in states of suspended animation, they interact with so many systems and structures that they seem impenetrable.
The mindset of design practice (architecture in particular), offers a potential means for facing this brave new world. The ambitions and values of architecture are lofty - they purport to seek a just, accessible, beautiful, and prosperous future for all, but in practice, this potential is constrained by professional habits and dogmatic thinking. This project proposes a means of escaping the dark-ness of being stuck in the ruts of practice.
This starts with breaking-down the current state of practice, identifying problems and barriers, then defines skills and intellectual assets that can be enlisted for the struggle ahead. This is distilled into a set of goals and priorities that provide a strategic foundation for a future-forward design intelligence.
The strategy is then explored and tested through a series of fast-moving real-world experiments, and then dis-tilled into reflections that provide the basis of principles for adapting design practice into a means to work towards a brighter future. This is a journey that moves from darkness into light, and then into the unknown. It is framed in language and imagery that sometimes reaches beyond the familiar and expected, but this is all in service of an expansive and transformational conception of the potential of design practice.
Bringing Back the Love
The Emotional Connection of Growth and Change Through Multi-Community Local Area Planning in Calgary, AB, Canada
Teresa Goldstein (Class of 2023) | Planning
This study examines the complexities of community planning and the significant role of human emotion in the process. Using a practice-based approach, the study explored an innovative codesign strategy as implemented in the Local Area Planning Program (LAP) of The City of Calgary to address these challenges. The LAPs embody a community-led approach to policy and growth planning in established areas, prioritizing emotional co-authorship and the integration of community-specific knowledge in planning.
Using a series of semi-structured interviews, six distinguished practitioners provided their diverse perspectives and approaches, with the goal of generating new considerations, tools, and recommendations to integrate into my practice. Applying the LAPs as working models of community connection, this study employed a design science methodology to collect information, reflect, and obtain expert feedback on both practice and design.
The aim was to curate a contemporary collection of practice-based tools, strategies, and insights that contribute to The Handbook for Community Connection, a practitioner's guide for fostering emotional connections between communities and the redevelopment process.
The Handbook offers a range of practical options that can fit into a variety of contexts, scales, and available resources, enabling a redefinition of planning processes.
The study concludes that by prioritizing empathy and building relationships, redefining planning processes becomes more habitual in practice. Furthermore, continually reflecting on your practice is key to facilitating meaningful connections within community.
Relying solely on policy to address societal issues yields limited results; the profession needs a more nuanced and holistic approach. Ultimately, with the study in mind, community planning can be an act of caring, one that helps to build stronger, more connected, and loving communities.
Keywords: Connection, Place, Community, Urban Planning, Codesign, Emotional Connection, Handbook, Pilot Pivot, Empathy, Growth, Policy, Change, Reflection.
This Doctorate of Design thesis introduces BAAKFIL, a new paradigm to address the housing crisis in Canada with a focus in Edmonton, Alberta. My research objective is to explore a practice-based solution through a new business model and an architectural design tool-kit to illustrate how this model can be applied.
BAAKFIL demonstrates how it is possible to address land cost to increase affordability. It promotes gentle densification of mature neighborhoods, in response to socio-cultural needs, demographics and sustainable community revitalization.
A new business model about equity leveraging unlocks underutilized land; where an owner partners with a developer by putting up backyard space for development while retaining tenure in the original house and property. The developer builds new housing without purchasing or financing land. Land cost is removed from the project proforma, substantially reducing development costs and instantly increasing affordability for the consumer. This is a scalable solution across Canada.
The BAAKFIL Design Tool-kit gives agency to the landowner (who continues to live in place) in promoting the design of sustainable and respectful architecture, responsive to neighborhood context.
Broader conclusions are included about density, the micro-community and sustainable, resilient cities. BAAKFIL improves the ecology of urban neighborhoods by advocating the revitalization of city alleys.
BAAKFIL is an acronym for Back Alley Advantage, Kinship, Family & Integrated Living.
It is a densification model that supports the preservation of existing housing and population growth at the same time. BAAKFIL integrates innovation within the housing industry at a societal scale. It positions the architect inside the housing question. With gentle densification of mature neighborhoods over time, BAAKFIL increases affordability with redeeming socio-cultural value.
Towards a New Practice of Integrated Landscape Design and Care
Amy Tsang (Class of 2023) | Landscape Architecture
This research examines how to bridge an existing gap between landscape design and maintenance within the overarching goal of supporting and enhancing ecological function in designed landscapes. Emerging from a practice-based problem, the research solution aims to bring together the working ecosystems of design and maintenance through a process of building strong and effective teams working towards common goals.
The UK Design Council’s Double Diamond was used as the guiding framework for the development of the thesis problem and solution. Two research methodologies, Design Science Research and practice-based research were used to identify and solve the problem by generating new knowledge and insights around integrating ecological landscape design and maintenance. Three major components of research were conducted: 1) “On the Ground” interviews, 2) Key Informant interviews, and 3) a Practitioners Precedent review.
These were used to inform the research solution, a “Model of Care”. The “Model of Care” is based on the fundamental principles of common values and goals, support structure, knowledge transfer, communication, and capacity-building. To test and describe the solution, four care archetypes were developed: 1) “Self”, 2) “Community”, 3) “Contractor”, and 4) “Staff”.
For each of these archetypes, a persona and design fiction narrative were developed to describe how the “Model of Care” could be applied in practice. The research demonstrated how an integrated approach to design and care of landscapes can lead to better outcomes for not only ecologically designed landscapes, but designed landscapes in general.
The research also illustrated the value and importance of reflection, innovation, and experimentation within a practice-based context towards solving complex challenges.