ntagblog-07-2010Coming from rural southern Manitoba, it’s easy to think that we don’t have any “architectural heritage” to look to for inspiration. However, our prairie landscape is rich with remnants that tell the story of our ancestor’s. In my case, it’s the story of people who embraced their community and who were very intentional about how they carried on the traditions of the place they came from.

Many Winnipeggers share the childhood memory of eagerly tearing open the wax-paper wrapping, chewing that stale stick of gum while flipping through a new pack of hockey cards in search of their favourite players.

For most, the trading cards have been lost somewhere in time, but occasionally an old collection forgotten in the back of the closet is uncovered to reveal a valuable link to the past.

Like that collection of old hockey cards, hidden away for years, the buildings of Winnipeg's Exchange District have survived because they had largely been forgotten. Decades of slow growth has meant little pressure to redevelop the area, resulting in a substantially intact collection of historic buildings.

ntagblog-06-2010Everyone cares about shelter, but not everyone cares about their environment, why? What value has been forgotten? As more and more Canadians move from the rural landscape into urban centres, the experience of the city becomes a vital reflection on the population that lives within it. What does it mean to navigate the streets of where we live? How does the experience of the urban environment affect the choices we make? We celebrate historic buildings but what of bus shacks, convenience stores or gas stations. These every day places are essential pieces of urban living. What elements of our lives affect us and inform the decisions we make in our work?

At Number TEN, our architects are always looking for inspiration for future projects.

Imagine a city in the not-too-distant future. A medium-sized city, isolated and far from the power centres of the country.

Clinging to the banks of a muddy old river, the evidence of early prosperity is seen in the rail yards, once its lifeblood. For a century, the trains screeched and smoke billowed from the central yard, but when the asphalt railway took over, the area fell silent.

Over the years, the riverside industrial land was reclaimed as a great public space for the city. The old buildings were transformed into markets, and a waterfront walkway and a dramatic new bridge were built. Park space, a hotel, a theatre and restaurants were all part of the plan.

Imagine a Paris with no Eiffel Tower.

It seems incredible today, but from the moment the French icon began to rise skyward, it faced widespread opposition. The newspaper Le Temps wrote that the tower "threatened French art and history," its radical design destroying the "intact beauty of Paris."

Novelist Guy de Maupassant famously ate lunch every day in the tower's restaurant because, as he put it, "It's the only place in Paris where I don't have to look at it."

Number TEN Blog

Number TEN Inspired! captures the knowledge, passion and ideas of our award winning architects, interior designers and supporting staff, as they navigate through the complexities of the modern design landscape. We are creative problem solvers, advocates for better ways of doing things, and observers of all that is interesting and noteworthy in our field. This blog is our effort to share our knowledge and ideas in a way that resonates with everyone. Whether you work in the industry as an architect, interior designer, building manager, property developer, or are just someone with an interest in creativity and new ways of doing things, this blog has something for you.