July 14, 2017
by Courtney Healey
Philip Vandermey, Jessie Andjelic. Photo by Phil Crozier
When Jessie Andjelic and Philip Vandermey, MRAIC founded SPECTACLE Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism in 2013, the University of Calgary grads set out to tackle big cultural issues that are both far-out and close to home. Their first commission, for Andjelic’s hometown of Medicine Hat, provided just such an opportunity.
A city-funded study for revitalizing downtown Medicine Hat included this concept for a commercial development entirely composed of corner offices.
Employing case-study thinking on Canada’s “doughnut effect” of hollowed out historic town centres, Andjelic, 31, and Vandermey, 39, envisioned ways to revitalize the sleepy downtown. Their concepts for temporary and permanent interventions and the adaptive reuse of historic buildings coincided with local elections and gained traction when the newly elected mayor declared downtown revitalization his number-one priority. On the other end of the spectrum, Andjelic recently taught a design studio about habitats for Mars. As Vandermey says, “we are interested in taking situations to their extreme outcomes.”
Responding to the Alberta floods, these luxury pods allow the privileged to enjoy life above the waterline.
Some of this approach can be traced to three years spent training at OMA spinoff firms in the Netherlands, where the partners developed a belief that “architects are uniquely trained to look for gaps between disciplines and problems, and are uniquely positioned to solve them.” It is precisely that ability to work simultaneously on Mars and in Medicine Hat, or to address local flooding in Calgary while proposing a bath house that straddles the Korean border, that sets their work apart.
The firm recently completed the Player’s Locker Room for the Medicine Hat Tigers. Photo by Jamie Hyatt
The firm has recently completed an interior fit out of the new WHL Tigers arena. “Our first built project is a hockey rink,” notes Andjelic. “Can you get more Canadian than that?”