To commemorate DoUC’s 10 year anniversary, we have organized an interview series highlighting past DoUC projects.
We wanted to take this milestone opportunity to revisit projects in a fun and reflective way, calling on the perspectives of both past and present DoUC team members. Shifting from objective and brief project descriptions, we revisited our work with a renewed intimacy. With more personality. We hope this series provides deeper insight and understanding to past projects. Or, is simply a fun read!
To help you navigate this series, we recommend first reading the project description for context. Then, you can explore the interview dialogue. Enjoy! 🙃
ℹ️ The Migrating Timelines interview was conducted with Amy Peebles (AP), and Natasha Bascchi (NB).
From your own understanding, what were you attempting to address with this project?
NB ⤳ This project attempted to address the history of migration to Canada and its subsequent influence on architecture. We sought to uncover major economic, political, cultural and social happenings to assess the patterns and trends of city building in major Canadian cities.
AP ⤳ I do not know if I normally think about things on these terms. I enjoyed working on this project because I felt there was a strong need to have a visual conversation in a way that I understood. I was trying to address and work through figuring out what types of information was the right kind to communicate what we wanted to say. I am a very linear thinker and I work step by step. I tend to think about things from a more Project Management perspective.
Migration Timelines Canada explored the evolution of immigration and Indigenous affairs through a legal and bureaucratic framework. It showcases the different departments, ministers, and legislation through time, illustrating their importance in shaping the country. The timeline was interspersed with information collected from the previous regional exhibitions, which act as accounts of Canada’s development.
What inspired the idea and exploration?
AP ⤳ I will speak a little on the approach, something that I think worked well at DoUC. We had a bit of a loose approach for the project. This allowed me to look for, and at a variety of information and ideas. Coming from a Planning background, there are a lot of “classic” things I look for. Such as, demographic and census studies. Knowing that a lot of this work is happening in smaller organizations, I looked for alternative websites and services vs. federal level data. This was more difficult to do because of “blind spots” — for example, you may think you understand something and have access to information until you think: “what am I not catching?”. I would then reach out to other organizations to help fill in the blanks.
Do you recall any challenges that you faced along the process? How did you navigate them?
NB ⤳ I don’t recall any major challenges! Perhaps the biggest challenge was figuring out how to integrate/merge all the information into one infographic (though it was large), and how to create a cohesive story with large amounts of data.
AP ⤳ There are gaps that must be figured out in order to make things read consistently. Sometimes you have more content for one category of information and less for others. While having a loose direction for this project was great, it was also a challenge. Sometimes I would question: “have I gone down the right path?”, “am I completely off base?”, “have I jumped down a really raw rabbit hole?” and, “what is the end product here?”. I don’t think I ever saw the challenges as something negative. Challenges always sparked new ideas and allowed me to think about things, and engage with the process differently — which is always nice.
From your exploration, what were some surprising or impactful things that you learned? Did they impact how you created the final piece in any way? How?
AP ⤳ I don’t know how I would begin to answer that question to be honest.
NB ⤳ I can’t remember. The one thing that I do remember is researching the establishment of corporate headquarters across Canada tied to local industry, and over time watching them move to new cities. Nothing super surprising, but it was interesting to correlate business to location and architecture.
“I don’t think ‘Canada’ exists as a nation or construct without immigration.”
How do you think immigration has impacted Canada throughout its history? Especially considering recent (and still mostly current) events in both Europe and the US.
NB ⤳ I don’t think “Canada” exists as a nation or construct without immigration. We’re so far removed from our connection to the natural land and Indigenous Peoples’ protection of it.
AP ⤳ Canada is a really funny space because it never really gets its own shine and its own history. I feel like it is always tied to something else. It is tied to a certain wave of settlement in the United States and tied to trying to find natural resources. I feel like as Canadians we probably do not have the widest knowledge of how far Canadian reach in history was. For example, we know we had a fur trade — but, where did that fur trade go?
I would say the history that we are creating now obviously will have an impact on the future. Thinking about trade overall, you are always taught to believe that Canada is very small, even though it is massive in landmass. There is a “down-home” sensibility about it — “we’re a small but mighty country” — we have so many things to offer, but our relation in the world is much smaller because of our population. We have made some pretty distinctive marks on the world.
I think about the way in which we can move very safely around the world. There have been many past conversations, treaties, and agreements made with other countries. These stated that we would be okay to one another, there would be no extra violence, there would be no extra inhumanity — even though we all know that is not the actual truth. But, the perception is that it is so.
“So Canada’s place is a really funny space because it never really gets its own shine, it never really gets its own history. I feel like it’s always tied to something else.”
Is there something in the visualization that you think most people in Canada don’t actually know about, but is actually important and pivotal to our history and current standing as a nation that you think people should know about?
AP ⤳ The reality is that a lot of history related to Indigenous lands was not something people were talking about. Especially considering the fact that Canadians do not actually really know a lot about that history in and of itself. I think it would have been good to provide that history to people who are beyond just Canadian soil.
Migrating Timelines, Vancouver, exhibited at the Vancouver Museum in 2011
How do you think we are currently doing? Consider the BLM movement, as well as actions for First Nations in Canada.
NB ⤳ Lots of room for improvement…
What do you think we could do better? Why?
NB ⤳ Protection of our land and better integration with the natural environment. More innovative design and planning that is not ego driven ($).
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
AP ⤳ I think working out of the Design Exchange, and getting to go into an old piece of architectural history was one of the funniest things! Being with DoUC in its “younger years” was really interesting because you guys were still trying to figure out what you wanted to do — It was a whole different generation.