Winners of FormShift Vancouver ideas competition selected

The winners of the first ever FormShift Vancouver have been selected. In the Vancouver Primary category, honours go to a submission from Calgary-based Sturgess Architecture. The Vancouver Secondary choice is Romses Architects (Scott Romses) of Vancouver. In the third and final category – Vancouver Wildcard – the nod goes to Go Design Collaborative (Jennifer Uegama and Pauline Thimm) of Vancouver. As first-place finishers, the three contestants receive $6,000, $4,000 and $2,000 respectively.


Final selections were made by a jury comprised of Canadian Architect editor Ian Chodikoff, world-renowned artist Stan Douglas, leading Vancouver architect Walter Francl, planning expert Nancy Knight, and City of Vancouver Director of Planning Brent Toderian.


“Overall the submissions were excellent,” says Toderian. “The true value, I think, isn’t just in the winners, but really in the totality of submissions. We received examples of good practice, best practice, and innovative new practice, all of which are useful at this key moment of opportunity for change.”


In choosing the best of each category, jury members were also impressed with the attention given to community and social factors. Says Knight of the Vancouver Primary winner, “It is a thoughtful, refined, smart project, with beautiful porosity softening the density, and creative thinking about roofs, walls, floors and passageways. It also makes a great push of green building as a solution that includes social aspects such as usable space within and relationship with the adjacent neighbourhood.”


In addition to the three first-place finishers, the jury identified eight submissions worthy of honourable mention:


* Vancouver Primary: Garon Sebastien & Chris Foyd of Vancouver and Romses Architects of Vancouver

* Vancouver Secondary: Acme Architecture of Santa Barbara, California and CMO (Miller / Miller / Cavens) of Vancouver

Vancouver Wildcard: GBL Architects Inc. of Vancouver; Public Architecture + Communication of Vancouver; Idette de Boer & Magali Bailey of Vancouver; and Wang Yiming of Burnaby.


The unique competition, co-hosted by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver, challenged architects, designers and others with creative flair to submit innovative, built-form ideas that will guide Vancouver’s future growth. Competitors were encouraged to draw inspiration from several key initiatives developed by the city, including the Climate Change Action Plan, the EcoDensity Charter, and the Greenest City Action Team.


Says Dorothy Barkley, executive director of the AIBC: “The value of a competition such as this is the opportunity it provides for new and emerging architects and firms, students and intern architects with fresh approaches and innovative ideas, to gain expression and recognition. It raises the profile of the profession, expands understanding and appreciation of the contribution that architects and architecture make to the shaping and texture of our communities.”


The contest attracted 73 entrants and 84 submissions, including some from as far away as San Francisco, New York, Paris and Rotterdam. Identifying the best of the bunch was no easy task. “Considering that the competition welcomed entries from architects and non-designers alike, the overall quality of the submissions was very impressive,” says Chodikoff. “While some lacked a methodological rigour, the intent was certainly there.”


Jurors were impressed with the integration of wide-ranging ideas for sustainable development, including many that incorporated components of renewable energy on a community level, Vancouver’s back lane conditions, urban agriculture, land parcellization and tenure, and various designs for green roof technologies. Many submissions also strongly addressed affordability and livability in the design. The winning submissions thoughtfully put forth multiple innovations and approaches.


Adds Chodikoff, “Vancouver has a unique opportunity of becoming a city that engenders environmental stewardship on a community level that might include neighbourhood food markets, waste-water harvesting and local energy production. These are themes that were reflected in the majority of the submissions.”


“Having a dialogue between the city and the architectural profession in BC is essential for the success of Vancouver,” summarizes Chodikoff. “I applaud the efforts of both the City of Vancouver and the Architectural Institute of British Columbia , and I congratulate every participant who took the time to submit an entry in this competition.”


The best and most innovative submissions will be featured as part of a series of public exhibitions and community dialogues, and used as a starting point for decisions about Vancouver’s future growth.


“These design ideas can influence everything the city is doing, from review of policies to specific ideas like our laneway housing work,” offers Toderian. “That is the power of this moment and why the competition was well-timed. Our need for boldness around climate change, and the challenges our new economy present, make this is the perfect time for new ideas to be explored.


In addition to the AIBC and the City of Vancouver, the competition received generous sponsorship support from Parklane Homes, Wall Financial Corporation, Grosvenor, PCI Group,, and mcfarlane /green/biggar Architecture+ Design.