North Vancouver-based project wins Urbanarium urban design competition


Lots in Common, by designers Nicole Sylvia, Roy Cloutier and Lőrinc Vass of Vancouver, beat out 44 entries to win the $10,000 prize.

A North Vancouver-based project that emphasizes community building rather than community has won Urbanarium’s The Mixing Middle urban design award.

Announced Thursday (February 10), Team Contingent, which includes Nicole Sylvia, Roy Cloutier and Lőrinc Vass from Vancouver, beat out 44 entrants from around the world to win the $10,000 prize.

“We were thrilled with the creativity and ambition of the submissions we received for The Mixing Middle,” said Marta Farevaag, co-chair of the competition. “The winning submissions imagine innovative uses for single-family residential areas in ways that increase social engagement, inclusion and affordability at the individual and community levels. These designs come at a time when many municipalities are updating their city plans. We hope that the results of The Mixing Middle will not only enable communities to dream big, but also encourage cities to explore new forms of development.

In an explainer video of the winning submission, a lot in commonthe project claims that the nature of the home and public spaces needs a “fundamental remix”.

“Instead of nostalgically recreating older ways of living and working based on the static property of a singular space, lots en commun proposes a network of sharing that both decentralizes domesticity and weaves collective space into the residence.”

The project included “three principles”: to be a sponge, not an island; from community to community, and [Inter]face things together.

“The project acts like a sponge and not an island, connecting to larger systems of ecology, mobility, livelihoods, social exchange, etc. It exploits underutilized areas of space – walkways, front yards, infrastructure and latent ecological corridors – by activating them with a shared network of collective activities,” explained the designers.

General Prize judging panelist and owner of the Federal Store in Vancouver, Colette Griffiths said the winning entry brought residential and commercial together in a way that elevates the North Vancouver neighborhood to destination status.

“That commercial viability and livability reminds me of Melbourne or cities in Europe – where you buy fresh bread in one store, groceries in another and go get your hair cut across the street. This provides an elegant and compelling solution for residential communities,” she said.

Second place in the competition was split between two entries, one titled Cohabitation quadplex and concentrated in one neighborhood of Coquitlam, while the other, Mixed mode, was based in a Vancouver neighborhood. Both entries bring $4,000 in prize money.

“Many of the proposals we looked at were thoughtful in their approach, but what stood out to us about Lots in Common was that it challenged the idea that individual ownership is best,” says Catarina Gomes, member of the general jury for the award and a Vancouver Park Board Planner. “The submission proposed a network of shared spaces and challenged a fundamental tenet of land use in BC, offering a paradigm shift in how we think about property – not just zoning.”

Charlie Carey is the Indigenous and Civic Affairs reporter for North Shore News. This pace of reporting is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.


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