On January 16th, architect Brent Bellamy joined Greg Mackling, host of the Nighthawk on CJOB radio for an hour long dialogue about Winnipeg architecture and urban design issues. Discussion focused on the economic and social challenges caused by urban sprawl and highlighted opportunities to grow the city sustainably in the future, concentrating on the importance of heritage preservation and infill development on sites such as the Kapyong Barracks.Click here to listen to Brent Bellamy's interview on CJOB
There's an old riddle that challenges children to draw a diagram of a house without lifting their pencil or repeating a line. The basic shape is composed of a square with diagonals running from corner to corner, topped with a triangular roof. In Germany, kids are taught to speak one syllable of the phrase, 'Das ist das Haus des Nikolaus,' for each line they draw. The game is known as 'The House of Santa Claus.'
Ask any Winnipegger what their favourite piece of public art is and the response will likely be a confused look and the question, "Winnipeg has public art?"
Ours is an artistic community. With only two per cent of Canada's population, we have 12 per cent of its musicians. We have the country's oldest civic art gallery, French-language theatre, English regional theatre and dance company. We are home to a renowned symphony and numerous artistic festivals. Despite this creative heritage, we have fallen behind other major Canadian cities in our funding for and implementation of great public art.
Winnipeg is a garbage city.
We send more of it to the landfill than any other municipality in Canada, generating 750,000 tonnes of waste each year. This is equal to the weight of nearly 200,000 full grown African elephants, representing more than 1,000 kilograms from each citizen. Even with a blue box in every home, we divert only 17 per cent of our waste from the landfill, the lowest recycling rate in the country and one-third of what cities like Vancouver and Toronto accomplish. That's a lot of elephants.
The most recent topic for discussion in Winnipeg's coffee shops and hockey rinks has been the city's less-than-seamless transition to an automated garbage and recycling collection system.
Do you ever wake up in the morning, turn on the weather channel and notice the temperatures shown at The Forks are often several degrees warmer than those at the airport?
You wouldn't think an area's climate would change over six kilometres, but it turns out that annually, the average overnight low at The Forks is -0.7 C while at the airport it is almost three degrees colder at -3.4 C. On sunny summer days, the temperature variation between the downtown and the outskirts of the city can reach six or seven degrees Celsius.
The answer to this puzzle is something called the 'urban heat island effect.' As the name suggests, cities are literally islands of heat. A Google Earth view of downtown shows a landscape of black roofs, asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks. These impervious materials absorb and store the sun's energy, releasing it back into the air as heat. Natural landscapes of soil and vegetation trap moisture and use the sun's energy for evaporation, releasing water vapour that cools the air.