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North Vancouver-based project wins Urbanarium’s urban design competition

Lots in Common, from designers Nicole Sylvia, Roy Cloutier, and Lőrinc Vass of Vancouver, beat out 44 entries to take home the $10,000 prize.
Lots In Common_3
Lots in Common, a project based in a North Vancouver neighbourhood, has won Urbanarium's The Mixing Middle urban design competition.

A North Vancouver-based project that focuses on creating communities over community has won Urbanarium’s The Mixing Middle urban design award.

Announced Thursday (Feb. 10), Team Contingent, which includes Nicole Sylvia, Roy Cloutier and Lőrinc Vass of Vancouver, beat out 44 entries from across the world to take home the $10,000 prize.

“We were thrilled with the creativity and ambition of the submissions we received for The Mixing Middle,” competition co-chair Marta Farevaag said. “The winning submissions imagine innovative uses for single-family residential areas in ways that increase social engagement, inclusion, and affordability at the individual and community levels. These designs are coming at a time when many municipalities are in the process of updating their city plans. We hope that the results of The Mixing Middle will not only empower communities to dream big, but also encourage cities to explore new forms of development.”

In a video explainer of the winning submission, Lots in Common, the project asserts the nature of home and public spaces need a “fundamental remix.”

“Instead of nostalgically recreating older modes of living and working based on the static ownership of a singular space, lots in common proposes a sharing network that both decentralizes domesticity and weaves collective space into the domicile.”

The project included “three tenets": Be a sponge, not an island; From community to communities, and [Inter]facing things together.

“The project acts as a sponge not an island, connecting into larger systems of ecology, mobility, livelihood, social exchange, and more. It harnesses underused zones of space – laneways, front yards, infrastructure and latent ecological corridors -- activating them with a shared network of collective activities,” the designers explained.

A member of the overall prize jury, and owner of The Federal Store in Vancouver, Colette Griffiths said the winning proposal brought together the residential and commercial in a way that elevated the North Vancouver neighbourhood to a destination.

“This commercial viability and livability reminds me of Melbourne or cities in Europe — where you pick up fresh bread from one shop, groceries in another, and go for a haircut across the street. It makes for an elegant and compelling solution to residential communities,” she said.

Second place in the competition was shared between two proposals, one titled Co-Living Quadplex and focused in a Coquitlam neighbourhood, while the other, Mixed Modal, was based in a Vancouver neighbourhood. Both entries take home $4,000 in prize money.

“Many of the proposals we reviewed were thoughtful in their approach, but what stood out for us about Lots in Common was that it challenged the idea that individually owned land is best,” says Catarina Gomes, a member of the overall prize jury and a Vancouver Park Board planner. “The submission proposed a network of shared spaces and called into question a fundamental tenet of land use in B.C., offering a paradigm shift in the way we look at ownership — not just zoning.”

Charlie Carey is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.