The FormShift Winners

May 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Brent Toderian, the Vancouver’s Director of Planning, blogs on Planetizen, often about Vancouver, always with insight.

In his most recent post, he talks about FormShift, the competition sponsored by the City and the Architectural Institute of B.C. 

We’ve recently announced the winners and honorable mentions, to strong design community, media and blog buzz.

(Although most of the community has been very positive, there have been a few criticisms of method, winners, judging, even motives – some disappointingly cynical, but others representing good feedback for next time. There’s an old saying that in design competitions, it’s the jurors that really are being judged).

You can see the winners and indeed all of the 84 submission, here and a good article on them from the Tyee “Welcome to Vancouver 2.0”.  As well, here’s also an interesting related article from Re:Place on the need and value of more competitions locally .

So here are the winners, with edited descriptions provided by the entrants.

Winner – Primary

Sturgess Architecture (Jeremy Sturgess) – Calgary  

Van Primary - Sturgess


This concept encourages alternative ways to live, work, play and grow, by re-thinking the traditional role and format of surfaces and elevations.

The walls are not conceived as cladding or filler but as crucial base elements of the design. The elevations do not follow a fixed or traditional paradigm but are configured to maximize the performance of the walls, and are responsive and reconfigurable to the urban and environmental conditions.

This hypothetical mixed-use project is generated by a complex of productive surfaces: every wall, ramp, floor and roof contributes in some way to either the procurement of energy, the generation of food, or the creation of a connective of communal public space. The stepped elevation rises from four to eight stories, allowing the project to respond to the current urban and environmental context. The ledges and rooftop spaces can accommodate modular additions in response to changing programmatic requirements. The wall and floor surfaces can be configured to harness a site-specific energy source, be solar or wind-generated or another source; and can be adapted to community needs, such as providing the site for a weekly marketplace or other communal activity.

By ensuring the design of all new buildings respect the surrounding context and understand the local environmental conditions, surfaces can be sculpted and custom-configured to provide a vibrant and accommodating urban environment.


Winner – Secondary

Romses Architects (Scott Romses) – Vancouver  


Van secondary


This concept challenges the status quo of how energy is produced, delivered and sustained in our city, neighborhoods, and individual single-family homes. It proposes to overlay a new “green energy web” across the numerous residential neighborhoods and laneways within the city.

These laneways will be transformed into green energy conduits, or “green streets,” where energy is “harvested” via proposed new “Modpod” laneway live-work homes. These prefab “ModPods” will provide the needed adaptable affordable housing for the City, but equally important, will act as incremental nodes of sustainable energy infrastructure for the immediate home and laneway house, as well as the city at large. They will also act as a venue for the harvesting of rainwater and new urban food systems. Private and communal rainwater cisterns will provide irrigation for edible green roofs, community and private edible gardens, fruit bearing vegetation, and vertical gardens that will inhabit the facades and space of the laneway, providing a “green food web” for the residential neighborhood.

The end intent is to transform Vancouver’s hidden laneways into synergistic “green streets” creating a socially vibrant new public realm. A new space where environmental, social, urban design, and community aspirations intersect while respecting and enhancing the existing single family fabric of the surrounding neighborhood. The result will slowly transform the service/auto oriented experience and quality of the Vancouver laneway into a green and dynamic pedestrian public realm. 

Winner – Wildcard

Go Design Collaborative (Jennifer Uegama and Pauline Thimm) – Vancouver  

Van Wildcard

“DENcity : INTENcity”

DENcity : INTENcity proposes a typology that responds to the “crunch” at the waterfront. It allows for the coexistence of industrial and agricultural lands with other uses as well as a providing a transportation and transit hub.

A high-density “stacked” program concentrates multiple diverse uses in a vertical format.  In concentrating such uses, efficiencies in energy recovery strategies can be realized through harvesting of wind energy and on-site organic waste digestion. 

The typology is composed of a base block of stacked industrial floor plates and parking is serviced by rail and streetcar serving the Fraser riverfront and linking to the new Canada Line sky-train route. A dramatic undulating roof, pierced with skylights, caps industrial activity and provides pockets of interstitial zones in between where a variety of events could occur – a seasonal farmers’ market or festival gatherings.  This roof then provides a new elevated ground plane above, capable of supporting urban farming or park land.  It is anchored by a flexible tower, a large-span, straight-forward structure that permits endless reconfiguration and occupation with minimal intervention.

 The typology revisits conventional horizontal zoning. It is responsible and sustainable, vibrant and accessible.  It invigorates its neighbourhood and welcomes its neighbours.  It stands as a beacon of the city’s edge, of its founding economic engines and ultimately of Vancouver’s commitment to building bold solutions for its future.


You can see all the winners and the honourable mentions here.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Strolling down Spadina in your IPod Love and the City

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