Client Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Communication Challenge The Kitsilano Project was a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) federal initiative to develop 16 sites of postwar Veterans’ housing and relocate existing residents in contemporary homes that would better reflect their current requirements. The design opportunity was to support CMHC’s communication objectives for the public consultation and development process. The main design challenges were to unify sites across a large geographical area, and to communicate directly with both residents and the immediate neighbourhoods.
Solution The project site hoardings became large community noticeboards that visually shared project information at two scales. People in vehicles driving past the sites would get an immediate indication of what was happening while pedestrians on the street could read more detailed information. Those with further interest were directed to the project office where they could speak with staff, access neighbourhood plans and review architectural models. As the design for the first buildings took form, CMHC used environmental graphics to communicate the unique features of each residence. Building design features differentiated projects by reflecting the preferences of each residence group. (Some amentities for the residents were quite specific. For example: One site included garden plots while another included bird houses on the property.) An innovative approach to fiscal responsibility and sustainability saw the integration of both new and salvaged panels—carefully disassembled and retrofitted—for erection on the various sites. As the development continued, damaged boards were replaced by stained plywood inserts. Perforated vinyl is now commonly used to surround construction sites but it is still challenging to repurpose these panels. I know this firsthand because I tried to implement a program like this at UBC where three things challenged any sustained process: 1. Finding convenient storage for the heavy panels, 2. Deterioration of the substrate due to rough handling and the natural elements, and 3. Where the graphics were highly coveted… theft.