So, where's the washroom?
You can hear The Silence.
"To talk about architecture without talking about toilets is to operate in denial of a whole array of sexual, psychological, and moral economies. For all the endless apparent talk about the body in architecture, architects don’t really want to talk about it. Architectural discourse is a deodorizer" (Toilet Architecture: An Essay about the Most Psychosexually Charged Room in a Building, by Beatriz Colmina and Mark Wigley, 2017).
Where's the washroom? It's a challenging question when washrooms - bathrooms, toilets, restrooms, loos, whatever you want to call them - remain a taboo subject in polite society. But who hasn't been caught short, with their pants down, so to speak?
The dearth of public toilets in Winnipeg, indeed across Canada, is a crying shame, literally.
Here in Winnipeg, BridgmanCollaborative has been lobbying for well over a decade to bring public toilets to the City's public policy table. Now with COVID-19 and lockdowns, the issues are even more pronounced, with restaurants and shops closed, opened, closed again . . . The relationships between public health, planning and design have never been so exposed in recent history, as they are today.
We're working on a new prototype, following from the success of our Pop-Up Winnipeg Public Toilet. More news to come in the coming months. In the meantime, check out what's in the works.
We're challenging The Silence.
Architect Wins Bridgman says future uses for the building have to deal with the Hudson's Bay Company's colonial history, including the fact 'its money came from slavery … [and] from the poor treatment and genocide of Indigenous people.' (CBC)
The principal architect at BridgmanCollaborative Architecture has been mulling over what to do about the robust concrete building in recent years. "So what do we do with it? We do not tear it down," he said. "The debate about the Hudson's Bay Company building in Winnipeg is actually a debate about how we understand our city." [Excerpt from "What to do with the Bay? Experts share visions for historic downtown Winnipeg space," by Bryce Hoye, CBC News]
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Do we celebrate heritage best with unlikely partnerships? Here's a small case study of the Barber House in North Point Douglas, Winnipeg to explore that question. (This presentation was given at the Manitoba Heritage Summit held October 1, 2020 in Winnipeg.)
Heritage buildings embody energy, history, and meaning. Significance develops over time and can be interpreted contextually, culturally, and socially. Barber House is an example of a modest heritage structure that has existed for nearly 150 years in the Point Douglas neighbourhood in Winnipeg. The Red River frame construction remains robust in spite of three fires in the building. Thistle Cottage, as it was once known, was built by Lorenzo Barber in 1862. The house is a reminder of early Red River pioneer settlement in the area. Vacant since 1974, the house came to signify disinvestment and neglect. But for many who have advocated passionately for the building over the years, Barber House symbolizes resilience, strength, and survival. The house now provides an accessible community room for seniors and visitors to the area. Neighbourhood history and artefacts are on display. The Barber House project was made possible by efforts of advocates, and generosity of funders at all three levels of government. Barber House is the second phase of community economic development at the 99 Euclid site, which also includes a daycare and the first phase of a community room (see Eagle Wing Early Education Centre).
[CBC] Wins is a jogger, and Rae is a cyclist.
Wins jogs to and from the office several days a week year-round — six kilometres each way. During the non-winter months, Rae bikes to work at the university — 11 kilometres each way.
We think of it as a way to see the city, check on buildings under construction, say hi to neighbours and friends on the way, enjoy the weather, be healthy. It's our thinking time.
There's just one problem.
At least two or three times a week, we witness a car failing to stop at the stop sign or crosswalk, or drivers going right through the red lights, turning into the pedestrian crossing lane, you name it … and our very lives are threatened.
(Just in case you're wondering, yes, we wear an unfashionable number of fluorescent stripes, belts, vests and flashing lights.)
We're not the only ones.
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[CBC] "The City of Leonia refashions itself every day.… It is not so much by the things that each day are manufactured, sold, bought that you can measure Leonia's opulence, but rather by the things that each day are thrown out to make room for the new." [Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino]
We know garbage is produced at an alarming rate. We also understand there are at least two costs associated with this so-called garbage.
The first is the expense of taking it to the landfill and managing that landfill. Second is the value of the resources (metals, glass, compost, etc.) squandered by not reusing them.
Our apparent overall indifference to these expenses and lost revenues may lie somewhere between a sense of privilege (as in the obsession with "the new" in the Invisible Cities excerpt) and not having the right systems in place to help us recycle.
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Planners call for safety overhaul of Winnipeg crosswalks - time to design our crosswalks for "human error"
[CBC] It takes a lot of courage to cross the street as a pedestrian, even if you're crossing "safely" at a controlled intersection.
And crosswalks — well, they can be even more treacherous, as in, "Is that car going to stop? Yes … no … yikes, it's zooming past!"
So what's a pedestrian to do in this dance with death? It's not as if drivers actually want to mow a pedestrian down, right?
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Winnipeg planning department's troubles reflected in the building it occupies — what happens when a building actually hinders rather than supports the work planners do?
[CBC] "Where's the planning department?"
It's a question raised recently with accounts of some City of Winnipeg building inspectors using their days for personal activities.
With a planning department tucked away — hardly visible from the street and with no clear front entrance — it comes as no surprise that the good work of city planners sometimes goes unnoticed.
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[CBC] Pop up, Winnipeg! For a lively city, a safe city! We urbanites in Winnipeg love what our lively city has to offer. And we want our city to be safe. We are speaking about how we, young and old, all have the right to enjoy walking on the streets, riding our bikes, sitting at cafés, sunning ourselves, doing our work in public places, celebrating with our friends and families.
Who goes to a city because they have great parking? And yet … look how Winnipeg is peppered with empty lots and gravel or asphalt deserts — otherwise known as parking lots — that were once developed (and will in future be redeveloped).
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[CBC] Who among us hasn't desperately needed to find a washroom at some point and couldn't? Add in chronic health conditions, gender issues, economics, age, racism, child care, disabilities — you name it, and the need for public toilets in Winnipeg just screams for attention.
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BridgmanCollaborative's CO-LAB blog shares our passion for architecture, design and urban issues. What makes a good city? We ask careful questions, we listen, we work for change.