City of Calgary
Grace Coulter Sherlock
To envision a future for the so-called city of Calgary there requires a critical acknowledgement of the complicity of design and designers in aiding the growth agenda of capitalist elites. The settler colonial city, whose prosperity came at the exploitation and destruction of Indigenous landscape and culture, now finds itself at a critical junction as it attempts to escape the petroleum boom-and-bust cycle while seeking new methods of capitalist expansion. The ideological apparatus of architecture insofar as their participation in entrepreneurial city schemes cannot be ignored, and it is necessary to disentangle the narrative of urban politics crafted through spatial operations to distinguish the value systems at play in the shaping of the city. What does it mean to have too much space, while on stolen land?
Decolonization of territory and re-Indigenization of the landscape at the City’s core offers a radical questioning of what post-capitalist architecture might be and a more ecologically-motivated social and economic transformation of “underused” space. Indigenous land and food systems have a notable capacity to mobilize new growth in the City’s underutilized spaces. Growth, in this regard, has little to do with a domineering new industry that reaps incredible economic benefit for the few.
FLDWRK x The University of Calgary proposes a more critical and sensitive sequence of interventions, that develop resilient local economies, fortify systems of health and culture, and challenge problematic. industrialized processes.
For this studio, FLDWRK looked to address how a meaningfully applied research mechanism can bring a design research practice, an academic institution and a city administration together to address some of society’s most significant challenges in creative, practical and realizable ways.
The students developed a salient theoretical armature and pedagogical framework for FLDWRK’s Cities in Crisis and Climate Haven Cities research. This work culminated in the FIRE, SOIL, SEED: Emergent Strategies Toward New Urban Ecologies project, examining adaptive reuse possibilities for underutilized urban spatial assets and infrastructure in Calgary’s vacant downtown. The research is informed and supported by the Civic Commons Catalyst project led by the Center for Civilization.
The University of Calgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape has deep-rooted relationships with our practitioners. Ongoing discussions throughout winter 2021 have been centered on how to strengthen and hone this connection to align with the reimaging of the Calgary design practice.
A climate-resilient real estate or a climate-resilient region, it’s a place or a property that with a low risk of being destroyed by the various environmental impacts of climate change and safe to live in even as the climate changes over the next 30+ years: Extreme heat / Sea-level rise / Inland flooding / Drought / Wildfire / Increasingly frequent hurricanes and tornadoes.