Block Week - Winter 2021 - Architecture

Gillmor Theory Seminar

The Calgary Archive: Seeding a Unique Urban Repository of Knowledge

Arijit Sen - University of Wisconsin [USA]

This course examines cities as cultural landscapes — physically disjointed, spatially fragmented, and uneven terrains.  In order to understand how cultural landscapes work, we will map foodways —systems of places, memories, activities, and destinations associated with the production, distribution, and consumption of food. Tracing cultural landscapes of food will allow us to consider innovative ways to think of the urban built environment and to experiment with design practices that Bjarke Ingels calls the design of eco-systems, or “systems of economy and ecology, where we channel the flow not only of people, but also the flow of resources through our cities and buildings.”

During this block-week, we will explore how food practices help new immigrants retain/adapt their culture even as they settle into a new environment. We will interview selected individuals from the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary and collect their favorite recipes. Then, we will map places where the ingredients are found, bought, cooked and consumed.  In the process we will also find that food memories and practices transcend national boundaries and time. We will discover how the smells, sounds, tastes, and sights of food conjure up memories and experiences of place. 

You will learn skills such as urban mapping, interviewing, spatial ethnography, community engaged storytelling, archival research, and create podcasts and website exhibits with digital tools such as Story Map JS, Timeline JS, Juxtapose JS, Soundcite JS, and Audacity.

Learn more about Arijit Sen → 

Arijit Sen Gillmor 2021 - exhibition preview

Exhibition opens May 1, 2021

Somerville Design Charette

Prosthetic Landscapes

Alison Hirsch + Aroussiak Gabrielian, Design Foreground Agency
University of Southern California  [USA]

“Prosthetic” is used here to imply the empathic task of taking on the experience of Other – suturing oneself into larger networks of history, experience, memory – landscape. In this course, students will design landscapes as articulations of narratives, histories and memories that have been formerly repressed or actively silenced. Students will negotiate with sites of trauma as a starting point to consider practices of memorialization in the 21st-century context. Connections to land and the severance of those connections will be integral to course discussions. The course will be structured as a landscape studio with daily lectures and theoretical engagement in the form of readings and discussion. The final outcome will be a choice between a sited design proposal or the development of a design process that expands the architectural toolkit, perhaps with the use of expanded media techniques.

More about Alison Hirsch at USC Architecture →

Taylor Workshop

New World Shelters: Portable Responsive Origami Fiber Composite Structures

Felecia Ann Davis - Penn State University [USA]

The practice of using textiles to make soft building enclosures is an ancient practice, which traditionally has produced buildings that are collapsible, portable and relatively lightweight. It is these properties that make textiles so useful to NASA designers and scientists considering materials with which to construct the new International Space Station. Today the characteristic softness and ductility of textiles are increasingly relevant on this planet earth, which is currently in a very active phase of making new land and changing its shape. Earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Australia, Japan and even the East Coast of the U.S., attest to this and have caused much discussion about what are the best ways to build on a very changeable earth crust. Many of these countries have long developed methods of building in earthquake zones, using building components that fail in ways that allow occupants a better chance of escaping unharmed, to methods of constructing that are more flexible and built to sway with the ground like trees. If entire buildings are constructed of lightweight, soft materials in a variety of ways using fabric in both tension and compression, so that one can construct many kinds of buildings systems in addition to tents or inflatables, then it is possible to spin electrical capacity and other energy/data bearing threads into the fibers of those soft components. A soft architecture proposes developing these strategies another step by combining soft materials and software to develop a new paradigm of building. These new composites can carry electricity and information to allow for communication, they are lighter, stronger and have greater elasticity. If textile materials are used to develop building components, then it is possible to intertwine other functions into those textile components making a sentient, active building that can communicate the state of its environment or its state to people.This workshop is about combining these sensing functions with textile building materials. In this workshop we will use the art of origami to increase the stiffness and structural capacity of fiberglass sheets to make portable, foldable fiberglass structures embedded with sensing capacity.

Felecia Davis block week 2021 - team 6

Exhibition runs until April 30, 2021 at the CBDLab X CITY HALL gallery.

Collision & Collaboration

Alkarim Devani, Strategic Advisor, RNDSQR


1. The Spaces Between; Architecture through a Development Lens, OR,

2. The Social Responsibility of City Building, OR,

3. Seeing the Spaces In-Between: How to effect Systemic Change through City Building

The course will navigate how we, as city builders, can impact human behaviour, habits, and outcomes. Suited to Architecture or Urban Planning students interested in open-minded discussion and examining internal biases within the industry. By exploring deep-rooted systemic contexts beyond the physical building, the spaces in between, and how 1% of a building is the idea's value, and the other 99% weighs in execution. The course features guest speakers working in the areas of Urban Planning, Government, Architecture, and Civic Engagement. By examining the perspectives of folks working in a multitude of industry disciplines, students will begin to see commonalities and differences in human-centered city-building approaches. 

The coursework will prepare students for the social responsibilities associated with Architecture and Urban Planning as their chosen profession. Students will work in a collaborative group setting to create a master plan for a new proposed community within the Calgary area.The course is lecture-based with practical and interactive applications, allowing students to apply critical thinking skills to the future of Architecture and Urban Planning through a social lens and framework.”


David Monteyne

The course provides an opportunity to step back from planning and design work in the studios and listen to music. We won’t just listen to music: we will explore and analyze a wide range of music as it relates to space and place. Goethe famously wrote that “architecture is frozen music.”He probably was referring to the visual and spatial rhythms and motifs of Baroque architecture.

Can we make similar analogies today? What about at different scales, such as neighbourhoods or cities? Starting from this premise, the course will go well beyond it to consider things like spaces made for music (e.g., concert halls), and especially music that evokes a sense of place (country and western, hip-hop, etc.). A music background is not necessary for this course; the instructor cannot even play the kazoo.

Themes to be explored

  • the development of expertise in sound design and acoustics
  • space and sound in musical theatre, opera, etc.
  • the relation among memory, space, and sound/music
  • songs about designers, specific buildings, cities, spaces, or places
  • songs or musical genres that are associated with certain places or situations (elevator music, Seattle grunge, Colombian salsa, Indian bhangra…)
  • musical instruments for specific spaces or from specific places (church pipe organs, the Hawaiian ukulele)

Form Through Fabrication – Unlocking Timber’s Digital Future

Nicolas Hamel

What is the relationship between form and fabrication? To answer this question, this course will explore an iterative-design process for discovering the interface between chosen form and fabrication intensity. To achieve this goal, predefined parametric tools and simulations will be applied to the material class of mass timber. The course content involves a series of lectures introducing mass timber as a novel material and its suitability for high performance robotic fabrication. In addition to lectures, explorative daily assignments will be assigned culminating into a weeklong body of work. Form Through Fabrication is suited towards students in the MArch program.  Basic experience with Rhinoceros 3D is an asset in this course with no previous knowledge of Grasshopper required. Students from all years of their program are welcome to join as exercises will be tailored to an individual’s experience and interests.

Nicolas is a graduate of SAPL’s MArch and MEDes programs where he wrote his thesis on parametrically informed mass timber design. He is currently working at Intelligent-City - a firm actively developing robotically fabricated, mass timber, multifamily buildings - in Vancouver as a computational designer.