Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Borrow, adapt, learn
The top two pix are of a small apartment building kitty korner the downtown Ottawa bus terminal. Its fun to look at as you walk by, the tilted windows add a nice sense of whimsy as do the flying roofs.
Below is Strata Centre on the MIT campus in Boston. It is full of fun angles, and the interior spaces -- a sort of atrium-cum-courtyard piazza -- are fun to walk in. It has a number of architectural jokes, including heavy brick walls that start in mid air two or three floors above your head (they are suspended walls), and I hear, a leaky roof.
Innovation in architecture and urban planning is carried out by more confident cities than Ottawa, and more timid places copy and paste, or borrow with adaptations, to retry those solutions in another context. Sometimes that makes a solution in search of a question. In others, it gives inspiration that shows lesser cities what can be done without the adapter risking their funds on innovation.
I posted the Rowe's Wharf pictures a few days ago and compared it to the Ashcroft Our Lady of the Condos site proposal.
Someday, maybe we will move beyond imitation and return to innovating. We used to do that well: the BRT transitway; NCC bike paths; the skateway on the canal, Sparks Street mall. Many innovations come about by force of a strong personality in the command office or a planning dept. They are virtually guaranteed not to be the product of a complicated committee consisting of various stakeholders working a cross purposes (viz Lansdowne).