Category Archives: Montreal

Light therapy in Montreal

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Glowing seesaws have taken over the iconic Place Des Festivals in Montreal, combining a public art installation with a luminous interactive experience. Designed by Lateral Office and CS Design, the giant seesaws, dubbed “Impulse,” hum with music when passersby play on them. The vibrant seesaws were chosen for the city’s sixth annual Luminothérapie event, which includes art and tech projects that use light and design. Continue reading

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Canadian Lessons for Winter Cities

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As the mercury begins to rise above zero in many Canadian cities in March, it’s tempting to pretend that we’ll never again have to bundle up and suffer through frozen-numb faces and temperatures colder than Mars. Though probably required to alleviate our collective cabin fever, in reality about one quarter of our lives in northern cities is spent dealing with winter and its many discontents. This annual recurrence of snow and slush, blizzards and black ice, has largely and traditionally been ignored by urban planners and designers whose work tends to focus on making our cities and spaces livable and functional for only three quarters of the year. Lately, however, a movement has been gaining momentum that is challenging this seasonal myopia and is seeking innovative solutions to combat this oversight.

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Who cares about the ‘burbs?

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Do the suburbs really matter? If you happen to live there, the answer is an obvious yes. But if you live in a more downtown neighbourhood, replete with parks and pedestrians, coffee houses and kitchen libraries, is there any reason to care what goes on “out there?” There are, of course, many reasons. Let me outline three of them. Continue reading

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The City in 3D

Maps may be the closest thing to a universal language of urban space, allowing people with diverse experiences to share a common understanding of space, but it’s almost impossible to avoid flattening out an already unappreciated dimension of urban experience: height (and depth).

We humans aren’t great at talking about the third dimension. We’ve never been very good at getting off the ground and our vocabulary for elevation is poorly developed. A novelist can paint a picture with words and a musician can evoke a feeling with sound, but the third dimension is more like smell: we all know it very personally but have difficulty sharing that understanding with others or even describing it to ourselves. We all know how being above or below, ascending or descending affects our lives personally, but except in the most extreme cases, we have to keep it to ourselves. Continue reading

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A Touch of Green in Montreal

Even during the summer months Montreal’s urban core can feel a little cold and hard at times. Sentier Urbain has taken it upon itself to lighten things up and spread a little bit of green around the downtown. The organization has not simply planted a few trees or set up shop in one location. Instead, it has developed a series of gardens throughout the city, each with a different theme.

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The Potential of Planned and Abandoned Spaces

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” said Robert Burns famously. But I would add that’s where the coolest stuff starts to happen. Many of us now, for better or for worse, live in planned spaces or neighbourhoods that are built on spec and are subject to land use planning guidelines. When interruptions in these plans occur, opportunities for innovation and creativity arise. They represent the chance to introduce something new into the pattern, perhaps only temporarily, but sometimes with a more lasting effect on the landscape, and moreover, on the people who live there.

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