Engaging with the community

May 03, 2017

A studio gets input when designing the built environment for an aging population

Engaging with the community

Our Aging Network, an architecture studio taught by James F. Huemoeller, considers how the built environment in Canada can accommodate a rapidly aging population. But instead of considering the conventional issue of housing, the studio challenges students to find new ways of addressing the problem by incorporating social and familial networks in an urban landscape.

For one of the projects in the course, students consulted with seniors at the Brock House Society. “I loved the first part,” said Glenys. “They were asking the questions and we were doing the talking.” The students used the opportunity to open a dialog with the seniors that informed their projects. They returned last week to present their ideas.

Brit listens to community feedbackBrit listens to community feedback from members of the Brock House Society

Alex’s project uses an inter-generational approach. Under the existing Cambie Street bridge, he proposes a series of community centres without a centralized building. This uses space that is otherwise wasted and connects the waterfront of False Creek to Vancouver’s downtown core. The community centre spaces are also designed to tap into an existing knowledge network, where an older generation can provide training to a younger one.

The model for Alex’s project, which proposes a series of community centres on the downtown side of the existing Cambie Street bridge

“It would be nice to have an inter-generational community because we can all gain from each other,” Caroline said about Alex’s project.

Amina, an architect from Pakistan, who was at the final presentation at Brock House said that she enjoys that the projects are “about everyone in the community” and “about being inclusive.”

Professor James F. Huemoeller talks with architect Amina at the Brock House

Adding another level of engagement to the course, James invited an instructor from the Sauder School of Business to the studio’s final reviews. This introduced a new perspective on the economic feasibility of the projects that Cameron said was a valuable addition to the course.

Cameron and Caroline

All of the projects were well received by the members of the Brock House Society who applauded their efforts, the initiative, and presented James and the students with tickets to an upcoming lecture.

The students are recognized in a speech by Glenys