UBC Graduate Research

For the Forest, See the Trees : How Can Architecture Engage With the Issues Between the Logging Industry and the Landscape? Sakowicz, Ada


Canada sits on a perilous edge amidst outcries of potential exponential environmental degradation. Both guilty of indulgent extraction and fortunate to still be rich in natural assets, it sits in between a pair of two divergent roads. Whether in a rural or logging town or within the urbanized Greater Vancouver area, most British Columbians live in the vicinity of forests, their houses are made primarily out of wood, and many are employed in some aspect of the forestry industry. Creative minds have long drawn inspiration from the Canadian wilderness and people of all ages recreate on lake shores or mountain slopes. There has also been a resurgence of wood innovation within the architecture industry and a newly generated excitement for the sustainable material. This research into logging in British Columbia through a design lens offers a discursive opportunity to investigate how Canadian culture is bound to the forest and how the logging industry is elusively woven within that. The study of logging in British Columbia allows for a fascinating venture into a rich mixture of politics, ethics, ecology, artistry and identity. What it uncovers is that a persisting settler mindset has drastically transformed and influenced Canadian political, logistical, urban, and physical landscapes. Although not exclusively problematic, it has proven to be an overwhelming force that is largely misaligned from Canadian values. Recent news suggests that since 1993, more than thirty percent of remaining old growth forest on Vancouver Island were destroyed” (Lavoie, 2019). Tweaks to the system have been made over time to alleviate issues, but with old growth logging, raw log export, climate issues, and slow regulatory adaptation, an imperfect industry remains. These broad, overarching, tendencies can be derived through the analysis of not only the history of logging, but in how forests have been treated and represented in the past several hundred years. These treatments and representations come in the form of both the architecture and art that was produced over the past several centuries. This project will be both architectural and representational, as it is steeped in the belief that these practices serve as valuable mediums with which to understand Canadian culture and allow for glimpses into a new future. From this exploration, not only will the development of logging and its current issues become more readily apparent, but the way in which Canadian identity is entirely entwined with that of the forest will emerge. Consequently, in an effort for art and architecture to move beyond serving as reactive reflections of current paradigms, it’ll attempt to set the stage for how these mediums can produce new theoretical frameworks and design interventions that attempt to connect the industry of logging with our deeply rooted values in the landscape.

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