Local competition to spur creative thinking for underutilized Calgary areas

A local non-profit association is holding a competition in the hopes the lost becomes found again with some of Calgary’s less attractive spots.

The Lost Spaces competition – held by d.talks, a grassroots organization dedicated to “fostering collaborative and engaging public conversation about design and the built environment” – is a call for architects, artists, designers, engineers and students to come up with ideas to enhance “under-utilized” pieces of Calgary’s urban environment.

“Lost spaces are kind of complicated spaces. They’re the kind of remnants … they’re often fairly underutilized and they’re complex in the fact where they’re situated, how they’re situated, in the urban environment,” said d.talks co-founder Amery Calvelli.

“So there’s often not a lot of connectivity to them. It’s difficult to access them. They’re too small to think about what to do with them. The idea of the competition is to stretch the current thinking on what those spaces could be.”
Lost spaces could include space left over from an interchange, a roundabout, the place between two buildings, the area around a fire hydrant or bus stop, noted Calvelli.

Participants are encouraged to team up with varying disciplines to foster their design ideas and answer questions such as where the lost space offer greater links and connectivity for people? How can a lost space connect fragments into corridors and attract biodiversity? And, how might they contribute to management of stormwater?”

Calvelli said the contest, particularly in Calgary, is necessary for a number of reasons.

“Number one, it generates awareness for the number of these kind of spaces. Once you start noticing them, you notice how many there are,” she said.

“We’re really hoping to advance current thinking and how the possibilities for designers and artists, creative individuals in a number of fields, to collaborate on these and come up with something that really crosses the barriers that any one discipline or any one individual can think of. So we’re really thinking hopefully there’ll be some ideas that expand current use and current thinking on these spaces.”

Submissions to the contest will be judged by a panel of judges, including Susan Szenasy, editor in chief of Metropolis Magazine; Shane Coen, principal with Coen + Partners Landscape Architecture; Pierre Thibault, principal with Atelier Pierre Thibault Architecture; Shauna Thompson, crater for The Esker Foundation and Diana Sherlock, independent curator.

Registration for the Lost Spaces competition runs until March 20. Submissions are due March 30. Winners will be announced April 29. For more information visit www.dtalks.org/call-for-ideas.