Living in St. John’s in 2016, it’s not hard to have a bad taste in your mouth about “development.” 

The city’s epic under-appreciation ( and demolition) of historic buildings, wildly out of sycn and out of touch condo proposals and executions, and a masochistic love affair with brutalist architecture (a prime example being St. John’s city hall), has certainly left some of us a bit bitter. We’re not often graced with moments of intelligent design here. This is a crime considering the talent and beauty we have.

Running till December 10th, at the Southbeach Building on 226 Duckworth Street, Twenty+Change is an exhibit of architecture and design by emerging Canadian design practices, and a really needed shot in the arm of optimism and vigor.

It posits architects and designers, and the projects and developments they complete, could be here what they are elsewhere: An answer to modern problems, providing we ask the right questions. The 30 award-winning  projects from 13 firms across Canada have  been chosen because they are some of the most innovative and promising  things happening in architecture and design.

Twenty+Change is a Canadian non-profit that celebrates and showcases architecture by young, up-and-coming firms. Jessica Stanford is an intern at Woodford Sheppard Architecture, a local firm acting as the St. John’s representative at the show. They have 2 winning projects displayed, both churches. She explains why the work of the Twenty+Change non-profit organization, and events such as this, are so important.

Building a reputation as an architect is a slow process, it can take a person until the age of 50 or even 60 to be really established. Twenty+Change aims to give exposure to exciting young visionaries in the field. They showcase the thinkers who are poised to make a difference,tackling issue like urban over-crowding and pollution, incorporating local food production and zero waste principles in their work, and producing buildings that are beautiful and work in harmony with their landscape. 

Giving them a leg up, the public exhibition also invites us who attend to participate in the conversation. Even the structures that are as much art instillation as building reflect on the dialogue between people, the myriad purposes of shelter, and the natural environment itself.

Hot Box by Polymetis

Hot Box by Polymetis

Hot Box, by Toronto’s Polymetis, mimics an ice house which is traditional in the northern climate, but re-envisions it as a sensory experience that encapsulates warmth and togetherness all the whilst snow gently drifts through a hole in the roof.

Combining the tiny house concept with modern apartment living, the APT project from marianne amodio architecture studio in Vancouver  merged the 2 into a sort of cohousing leisure palace with small private quarters, but an armada of communal amenities that would make a Kardashian jealous. In this topsy turvy new reality, everybody wins, as the overall impact is both energy saving and low cost.

The value of seeing projects such as these is beyond value as we look forward to how we will address the problems that face us in building a livable city, piece by piece. Community gardens as spiritual space, woodstacks as walls, and a church that literally illuminates, there’s a whole lot of fun ideas displayed on hanging wooden pallets at 221 Duckworth (South Beach Bldg.) that more townies need to be thinking about this winter.

As much as every other Canadian, we deserve a healthy, beautiful city that welcomes our lust for life. Hours are 6-8 Thursdays and Fridays, and 2-6 Saturdays.

Sacre Potager by Atlier Barda

Sacre Potager by Atlier Barda