Roundabout Vancouver

Vancouver Art Gallery



Featured by the Canadian Centre for Architecture as a “CCA recommends” project

What would a metropolis in the Pacific Northwest look like if urban planners at the turn of the 20th century recognized and exploited the spatial potential of existing old growth trees rather than their perceived resource potential?

Employing techniques of photomontage and urban mapping, we take an anachronistic detour that decouples empirical fact from historical memory. While in the present city of Vancouver, the centre space of roundabouts is given over to various sanctioned treatments—community gardens, a monumental rock, and so on—in this “retroprojective” proposal an alternative vision of the not-so-distant past is offered, one wherein forward-thinking city planners leave an old growth tree at the centre of each future roundabout.
With this simple gesture we can envisage an entirely different city, one in which the massive trees are no longer a rarity but instead fundamentally define and shape our movement through the urban fabric of Vancouver. While the singular presence of each tree is in itself remarkable, their collective existence is a legacy comparable in size and density to that of Stanley Park, Vancouver’s beloved urban green-space. With this action on the civic imagination the city becomes a forest, and the forest a city.

In collaboration with Daniel Irvine and Chad Manley