Architects dreaming about downtown

I had something entirely different planned to write about, and then I saw this article in the Free Press yesterday, about architects dreaming of ideas for downtown as part of the Re-imagining Winnipeg project. And then I couldn’t dream of writing about anything else!

There are a lot of ideas you should check out, and there’s no limit to how ambitious the dreams are (rerouting the Assiniboine river to create a lake, anyone?) So I’m just going to talk about 3 that I really liked, but click over and read the rest and see the drawings when you’re done!

Alleyways becoming marketplaces:

Although many architects focus on buildings to breathe new life into a neighbourhood, Calnitsky Associates Architects chose instead to put their energies into repurposing the spaces between buildings. It is a plan to “fill in the missing teeth of downtown,” the architect said.

The result is two dramatic visions for alleys on Bannatyne Avenue east of Main Street. At 123 Bannatyne, an awning is suspended over the alley, creating a new and dynamic space for retail and food services. Cantilevered balconies jut into the air, and skywalks connect buildings for greater versatility. At 185 Bannatyne, the vision is similarly dramatic, with another articulated awning spanning a wide alley. More cantilevered patios, decks and skywalks create brand-new mixed-use space, including housing, with the ground floor teeming with food services and retail.

We’re SO lucky to have the heritage buildings we do in our city – why wouldn’t we want to make the most of the space around them? LOVE.

A Bat Box:

The “Bat Box” is a shipping-container sculpture added to the Wayward Bridge in Stephen Juba Park on Waterfront Drive. In this application, the containers become a man-made home for thousands of bats, which would be drawn to the structure by the intense heat conducted by the metal walls during daylight hours. At night, a mass exodus of bats would serve as a tourist attraction in and of itself, and bats are one of nature’s best consumers of Winnipeg’s most unwelcome insect, the mosquito.

OK, now I understand that a sculpture piece that’s home to hundreds of bats during the day may sound terrifying at first if you’re not Batman and/or Robin. However. I visited Austin, Texas a while ago, and one of the coolest things I saw there was the famous Bat Bridge. People gather to see them take off every night, and it’s just gorgeous.

Bat Bridge
The bat bridge in Austin – surreal!

A street just for art

Colony Street would be closed to create a pedestrian mall. Adjustable, movable art containers fill out the new plaza, offering new adaptable spaces for the curation of visual art.

An added feature of the Colony Art Precinct is the establishment of “Artbus.” A fleet of patron-sponsored buses travel the city to bring schoolchildren to the art precinct. The buses are also works of art, literally “portable canvases” that offer a practical way of connecting children with the arts.

How many have you have been downtown for September’s Nuit Blanche? It’s an incredible all-night celebration of the arts all around the streets and galleries of downtown, and one of the biggest hubs is right around here. 5000 people go through the Winnipeg Art Gallery on this night alone, partying and appreciating art until 6am. Why not have it all year round?

The WAG during Nuit Blanche. And this was just on the ROOFTOP.
The WAG during Nuit Blanche. And this was just on the ROOFTOP. Imagine what the streets were like.

Again, there’s lots more ideas so go read them now and check out the pictures.

If you want to hear even more, there’s a forum tomorrow night at the Winnipeg Free Press cafe on McDermot where they’re going to talk about the proposals in details – 7pm, be there!

One thought on “Architects dreaming about downtown

  1. I do like the bat bridge. I have seen something similar and it really is an awesome spectacle to see. I actually like the thought of them out there patrolling those mosquitos for free! Free works in Winnipeg. I hope they can sell it.


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