Time to renew, refresh, rethink – and time to let go.
First, we are letting go of our office space, shared with pleasure, daily collegial exchanges, and occasional collaborations. At the end of May, we disassemble the bright airy workspace we have created and move bravely into the future. In the backs of trucks. To settle in and create new creative places, to find new patterns of daily exchange and interaction.
Second, our collection of beautiful, fragile dream homes were packed into a truck and driven to Quebec City on Monday. They are going on to the Laval University architecture school to be exhibited in the fall. Suzanne and I were pleased and relieved that they are travelling to a new temporary home after their successful exhibition at the Maison de l’architecture du Québec. And yet I miss them – their hopeful, slightly crooked, heartfelt presence in the office was a great source of inspiration to me these past months.
As architects we have to let go of each project, first into the hands of the people with the tools, and then into the lives of the people who will occupy the space. In the blink of an eye, we transition from intimates with access to every corner of every room, to visitors or maybe honoured guests, but strangers all the same.
As a packrat, letting go does not come easily to me. Places, people, things – I hoard them all. I like to aim for simplicity and a pared down life, but my bulletin board is covered in odd flyers I found interesting, fortunes from fortune cookies and drawings my kids made when they were smaller.
But new ideas are also a sign of spring. We are exploring the possibilities of combining co-design and job training and self-building to create new housing in abandoned buildings. We are also looking at whether urban gardening and small cooking enterprises can provide opportunities for economic and social integration for new immigrants. I wonder what happens if architects form a work cooperative. And also how to fix a leaking curtain wall, how to make a kitchen airy and functional, and how to create privacy in a dynamic and welcoming office.
Each new project calls on architects to draw out pieces of knowledge, experiences, fortunes and hopes collected in our work and travels. It’s a kind of collage we make up as we go along, adjusting to the particularities of the situation, the people, the site. Maybe it does pay to be a bit of a packrat after all…