For 24 hours on November 18 and 19th, 44 students collaborated to reimagine vacant office space in our downtown core, for the launch of Vivacity 2016-17.
Working with Aspen Properties and Calgary Economic Development, Vivacity’s purpose this year is to explore two important issues affecting the future vibrancy of our city:
- How do we retain our city’s young and upcoming talent, and
- How can we reimagine our downtown core and creatively repurpose vacant office buildings?
According to recent statistics, more than 25 per cent of office space is vacant in our downtown core. The economic downturn has drastically impacted our city, and yet in the face of this adversity, we have been provided with an incredible opportunity. We now not only have the capacity, but also the willingness, to explore creative, collaborative, and innovative ideas to reimagine the value and usage of our office spaces. We have the support, and the desire, to reimagine what downtown Calgary means to our citizenry, beyond the traditional office-cubicle design.
This is the context that inspired 44 students representing a multitude of disciplines from six post-secondary institutions to challenge themselves creatively for the 24 hours they spent together in November. Supported by industry leaders and mentors, six teams were tasked with revitalizing actual vacant office spaces provided by Aspen Properties located directly in Calgary’s downtown core.
By the end of the 24-Hour Launch Event, each team had taken a vastly different approach to this reimagining, but all had identified a consistent theme for the future vibrancy of our city-collaboration. It seems that young and upcoming talent in our post-secondary ecosystem sincerely align on the belief that when we break down walls and barriers between us, when we encourage vastly different behaviours to collide in unison, innovative paths forward emerge.
The truly exciting result of this launch event is that many of the team designs will be activated in 2017 during a Civic Innovation course taking place at Mount Royal University. With the support of 24-Hour Challenge participants, students will bring their design solutions into reality; to pilot, test, iterate, and implement. The ultimate goal of this year’s project will be to have a reproducible model that can be used as inspiration for developers, property owners, stakeholders, and collaborators to co-create in various spaces throughout our city.
As 2016 comes to a close, many people are eager to put the year behind and are actively enthusiastic for what 2017 and the future will bring. For all of us who have participated with Vivacity, we are thankful for the enthusiasm and support we have received, and can’t wait to move forward to activation in our community in the New Year. We will be hosting a series of community dialogues to connect with our city, and a final showcase to unveil our activations.
Please stay tuned as we announce these events and celebrate our team’s accomplishments. In the meantime, have a safe and prosperous New Year!
Written by Tyler Massie