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Two sides to staging public space : enhancing civic function and establishing symbolic content to the Vancouver Art Gallery landscape Guppy, Graeme Blair

Abstract

This paper explores urban design possibilities for the enhancement of the Vancouver Art Gallery landscape. It is understood that urban public places are necessary for not only the daily functioning of society, but as venues of and for celebrations, demonstrations, and communication. All public urban spaces have the potential to serve as significant locations of human experience. The designed urban landscape should have the capacity to elicit response and heighten our perceptions, thereby furthering our understanding of the world. Understanding the Vancouver Art Gallery landscape as a central urban space of significant civic importance, it is necessary that its design illuminate the interactions between humans and the physical world - the actors, the audience, and the stage. A literature review is conducted in order to discern possible connections between museum processes and designed landscapes. Analogies are drawn between the processes and display of art within and around galleries and museums, and the cultural meanings associated with these displays. These processes also reveal themselves in the designed landscape. Second, museum-landscape analogs are proposed, and from these, precedents are researched in order to identify criteria that support and reinforce these analogs. These analogs are typologies that may serve to inform the urban design, and landscape architectural process. In response to the research, the Vancouver Art Gallery landscape is designed according to one of the types (analogs) identified - Landscape as Theatre. The design provides a model for the expression of the theatrical aspects of urban life that contribute to the vibrancy and cultural richness of the urban landscape. The conclusions drawn herein are suggestive of urban design enhancement opportunities that exist within central downtown Vancouver, in particular the Vancouver Art Gallery landscape. It is recognized that significant investment in our urban spaces is a requirement for ensuring the successful evolution of urban life. In addition to the enhancement of human experiences within the city, successful urban projects that elicit international acclaim and recognition further the economic growth of, and investment in the city. Certainly, when public spaces are used and enjoyed steadily and repeatedly the experiences of places are enriched, and human experience is enhanced.

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