UBC – School of Architecture
Year: 2003-2004
Committee: Prof. John Bass, Prof. Doug Patterson, Dr. Ray Cole

The coastal ecology of southwestern British Columbia is mediated through a fine network of freshwater creeks. Obliterated through the early development of Vancouver, the creeks of the lower-mainland exist as residual indentations in the rolling landscape of the City and as artifacts engineered into the stormwater infrastructure of the City. Facing the impact of ailing forests and declining returns of spawning salmon, we are now coming to understand the importance of Vancouver’s creeks to our own existence on the coast.

The False Creek Flats of Vancouver is a salt-water marsh, land-filled in the early 20th C. to create a deep-water port and rail-yard in the centre of Vancouver. The Flats occupy 125 hectares at the geographic center of Vancouver, however, they have almost no presence in the collective memory of the city. Discontinuous streets and deliberately obstructed views have scripted the False Creek Flats out of existence for most of the population.

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Study of the history of the district and scenario-driven models for the future attempt to establish a structure for re-integration of the Flats. Anchored to a series of prototypical interventions, a series of remediation sites are located at the terminus of five creeks that historically entered False Creek.

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Long-term remediation of toxic soil on the site is engaged directly by the project. The economics of soil contamination is seen here as an opportunity to build serviceable value through interim occupancies and as a  means to decelerate the process of development, which is seen to be critical for the psycho-geographic re-integration of the Flats into the collective memory of the city. In this light, a permissive structure of temporal events and rituals are included in the development ‘toolbox’ as both a catalyst for development and a laboratory for re-integrating the City into the liminal states of the False Creek tidal flats.

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