May 14, 2019

Mark Busse, On the Underlying Confidence That We Can Design for Community

Can we create community out of diversity? If so, will it require changing the scale and character of urban forms within our communities…the very change some Lower Mainlanders have recently become notorious for rejecting?

It’s one of many thorny questions tossed around, grappled over, and occasionally outshouted by our venerable host and his subject Mark Busse, Director of TILT Curiosity Labs at HCMA Architecture + Design, and host of the Creative Mornings Vancouver breakfast lecture series. There’s a give-and-go to this conversation that Price Talks has not yet witnessed, or had to edit around…

It begins with a game of Podcast Ping Pong (you don’t know it because Gord just invented it), and ends with a discussion of the possibility that, not only have we not seen the end of Gen X, we may yet have the opportunity to witness their best and brightest contributions to society.

In the middle is a wide-ranging debate about the role of designers — not planners mind you, but a broader creative class — in contributing to the directions our cities and communities take. Often bespoke approaches to prescribing how relationships are facilitated and move in space, and what we could call the ‘special sauce of serendipity’ that has come to mark social interactions in the new communities of the future, today. In places like downtown Vancouver, and Surrey, for example.

And by the way, what is community? Says Busse: “There’s data that says people living in close proximity, sharing and touching skin on skin produces happier, and healthier human beings.” And if that means breaking the bargain we’ve made with previous generations who have come to counted on having homes that the kindergarten class have depicted for generations — detached house, pitched roof, chimney, backyard, and generous garden — then so be it. “Sorry, grandpa.”

And when Gord asks if Gen X has blown it, Busse suggests that, perhaps with the support of a little Millennial tailwind, the best of this generation may be just over the horizon.

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