Archive for ‘Designs’

May 22, 2018


Over the last few years I have begun experimenting with embroidery as an artistic medium.  I like how it reduces expression to lines and colour. The work is inspired by my Grandma who would often do embroidery on the cards she would give to friends and family on special occasions. The last time I did embroidery was for a set of Christmas cards. This time I made the two cards below as a gift for Philip and Rolf and they depict views from the 2 Fraser adaptive reuse project that I worked on for almost two years.




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April 14, 2018

Queen West SCS

This past year I had the opportunity to work on a small project with Philip Beesley and Rolf Seifert called the Queen West Supervised Consumption Site (SCS). Several SCS have opened up in major cities across the country to reduce the impacts of substance use on individuals and communities. Health Canada has a helpful website that explains the reasons, goals, and how the sites work. The project was a good opportunity for me because it was small and I was able to do everything for the project under the supervision of my boss including the bidding and negotiation process and contract administration. I learned a whole lot from working on this project, am proud at how it turned out, and am excited for the impact it will have! Photos are the property of Philip Beesley Architect Inc. and Rolf Seifert Architect. The photographer is Alex Willms.






April 1, 2017

When the Vernacular Fails

I recently contributed an article to the Site Magazine’s issue 36: Vernaculars. The article is called When the Vernacular Fails and describes the disaster response work I did with EMI in Nepal a few months after the 2015 earthquake. The work relates to the idea of the vernacular because we were outsiders working in a foreign context and had to listen and work with locals and also apply our outside expertise. In the development of a training manual for the rebuilding of more seismic resistant homes, we opted for a hybrid solution that incorporated a few modern construction techniques where needed with the traditional methods that we discovered were very common in the region.


October 1, 2016

Icelandic Trekking Cabins

In July and August my colleague Joe and I prepared a design for a trekking cabin in Iceland that we submitted to a competition put on by Beebreeders. The design proposes a truncated pyramidal form that is lifted off the ground so as to stand lightly on the diverse and fragile landscapes that can be found in Iceland. The form is then carved away to create openings that frame the sky and the landscape. Cabins are clustered together with a canopy between them to frame the view of the uninterrupted horizons and form an exterior sheltered area where groups can informally gather. The cabin is designed in prefabricated pieces that can be easily assembled on each site, can function off grid, and is well insulated to protect against the elements.  On the inside there is a storage and mechanical space in the first half level, a small kitchenette and washroom one story up, and bunk beds that are staggered up the sloping walls to make the space as dense as possible. At the scale of a whole trail, the cabins can be clad in materials that compliment the landscape, and the cabins can serve as beacons for the purpose of way-finding at night or in bad weather.

It was a fun project to work on because it had to be functional and iconic at the same time, and I also enjoyed learning about the many different types of terrain that Iceland has. Now I definitely want to travel there at some point! Although we did not place in the competition, we are still very proud of what we came up with. I welcome any feedback you may have about the design!





August 21, 2016

Canada Bread

I have been working for the past year at Philip Beesley Architect who is working in association with Pucher Siefert. The main project I have been working on is the adaptive reuse of the old Canada Bread Factory in Liberty Village into commercial space. It has been a great project to sink my teeth into as an intern architect. The project was already under construction when I started, but because it is following a design-build process, we are working on design changes as the construction progresses. I am fortunate that the project is so close by and that I get to go to site every week or two to see the progress and watch the things that I helped draw get built! The building has a lot of historic character that includes large swaths of horizontal spaces with beautiful timber ceilings and beams, brick walls with arched doorways and windows, and light steel trusses. One major move we did in the design for reuse was to create an interior double-height avenue space that cuts through the building, offering a place that the employees and the public passing through can enjoy. To create this space, a new structure and roof were created that extend from the old structure. One of my favourite moments of construction was when the old roof was removed as soon as the new structure and roof had been installed a level above it. In a day the space was completely transformed and looks very close to what we envisioned! Check out some of the photos that I took during construction that show the evolution of the avenue.


Installing the new structure for the Avenue


The new roof is on!


The old roof is gone!


Installing the garage doors


Skylights installed!

August 31, 2015

Final Construction Handbook

After returning back from Nepal I spent about three weeks working half-days to finish up the final document to provide to our partner Tearfund UK. There were several changes to be made based on their feedback that included drawing the stone with rubble infill more accurately, providing alternative wood details in the place of concrete and steel, preparing a one page poster that summarizes the information for homeowners, and preparing versions of both documents with no text so that they could later create a Napali version. The handbook is too large to include here, but I have attached the poster below. The techniques are summarized into six key points: (1) build with a strong foundation; (2) use horizontal reinforcement (ring bands at the foundation, lintel, and roof); (3) use vertical reinforcement (tie the foundation to the walls and to the roof); (4) connect the floor system to the walls; (5) provide junction and through stones to connect the walls together, and; (6) provide a gable that is wood instead of stone. The proposed techniques offer a hybrid solution that works with existing building methods in the region so that people can rebuild fairly independently and move back into homes as soon as possible. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to witness Napali architecture and way of life, and learn more about building in stone!


August 6, 2015

Final Days in Nepal

The final days in Nepal were a bit of a blur as we switched into deadline mode to produce a draft of the training guide to present before we left. I hand-drew all of the drawings, scanned them, and then added the text and dimensions in InDesign. It was fun to draw by hand after so long! It also allowed me to produce the drawings fairly quickly. I drew mostly in isometric so that people unfamiliar with technical drawings would be able to understand the details. On Wednesday afternoon we presented, and that same evening we caught our flight home. Photograph of table covered in drawings

Team photo on the roof of Tearfund HQ: Howard, Dan, and myself

July 29, 2015


Above the cloudsOn the fourth day of the trip it was time to split up with the engineers for a time. I went back to Kathmandu to get a head start on the drawings while they went to a region called Dhading to do market research and look at more houses. On the drive back it was still quite cloudy and we got a magnificent view of clouds gathering above and below us. So even though I didn’t get a glimpse of the Himalayas on this trip because in monsoon season it is rarely clear enough, I was put in awe by the clouds. As we got closer to Kathmandu the drive felt a bit like a video game as we cut in and out to pass large, slow moving trucks on the twisty road. Back at Tearfund headquarters I put together a makeshift desk and began producing rough drafts of the drawings. It was fun to hand draw after such a long time!


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July 28, 2015

Day 4: Agra

On our third and final day in the field we visited a region called Agra. This time we were a bigger group because Rita, Tearfund’s new shelter advisor, joined us. It was another journey down a narrow, bumpy, and curvy road. On our way there we drove into a cloud. While we walked around the sun would occasionally find its way through, but for most of our visit we remained inside the fog. At times it gave an eery feeling to the surroundings, especially when we came upon the ruins of a house. Once again we were welcomed by the people we met. The people kept wanting us to go further to see more houses, and eventually I think half the village were following us down the hillside!


Photograph of villagers following the team down the hill

Photo by Ben Keenan

We left early from the field because the wind started to pick up and the fog was getting wet. It was possible that rain could create bad road conditions. Getting back to Palung early afforded us some time to develop the list of drawings we thought needed to be included in the manual. It was a challenge to stay within our original scope so that we could accomplish the work in the week we had left!

Photograph of EMI team working at the hotel upon returning to Palung

Photo by Ben Keenan

New experiences:

– I ate a peach and pieces of pear (naspati: it tasted like a cross between an apple and a pear) that were offered to us by some of the villagers. Even though I knew I might regret it later, I decided to accept and eat them. Lo and behold I had some indigestion later on as a result.

– I learned how to say thank you in Napali, which is “Dahn-ya-bahd”. The group quickly came across a great way to remember how to say it: “Dan ya bad”. Dan wasn’t such a fan of this discovery and we would jokingly remind him of it for the rest of the trip!

July 26, 2015

Day 3: Tistung

The following day we headed out to Tistung, another region where Tearfund has beneficiaries. This region was a bit more out of the way and we needed to take a narrow dirt road that wound up the foothills. In some areas the houses showed significant cracking and so even though they were still standing, people were not living in them since another earthquake could bring them down. In other areas the houses were completely collapsed, probably because the forces of the earthquake were greater in those areas. The people we met were very welcoming and eager to show us their homes and share their stories. We found out that the earthquake actually happened during the day on a Saturday which was probably the best possible time since most people were not in their homes. We began taking note of common characteristics across the traditional houses that would inform the training guide. On our way back to Palung we stopped to see a waterfall and a small footbridge that were near the road. We encountered a woman shepherding a herd of goats across the bridge.

All of the houses are built on the hillside

All of the houses are built on the hillside

Proof that the guys were working very hard! On this house the outside wythe delaminated from the inside, something that through stones would help to prevent

Proof that the guys were working very hard! On this house the outside wythe delaminated from the inside, something that through stones would help to prevent

An image that shows how life goes on in the midst of calamity

An image that shows how life goes on in the midst of calamity

Photo by Ben Keenan

Photo by Ben Keenan