Reflecting Vancouver

Urbanism and Life on the West Coast

Gesamtkunstwerk

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Vancouver Winter 2013-2014 036
Seems the Bjarke Ingels Group has rather high aspirations for their approved Beach Avenue and Howe Street development. As a prelude to glories ahead, they have reclad West End Mini Storage in a minimalist design of copper-toned panels, complete with neon proclamation:

GESAMT
KUNST
WERK

Hubris, or a sign of better things to come? One could argue that Vancouver needs more architectural Gesamtkunstwerk, signifying an integrated craftsmanship extending from structure to aesthetic detail. Our see-throughs are notably devoid of intention or idea. This placelessness has made downtown a rather uninspiring place, whatever the pleasant hue of the glass. Some artistic license is perhaps necessary to break the monotony.

The Teutonic cladding reminds of a repurposed Berlin warehouse. And part of me wonders if that kind of small-scale refurbishment is actually what Vancouver needs, if it seeks to emulate more creative cities. We need flexible buildings for experimental aims, buildings like those under the Granville Bridge tended to with a bit of imagination.

I wonder how soon the venerable hodgepodge will be torn down. I’ll miss the Buddha in front of the vine-covered body shop.

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Author: Chris

I'm the author of Reflecting Vancouver, a West Coast blog devoted to urbanism, culture, politics, philosophy, and everyday living in Vancouver.

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