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Coquitlam, BC

Welcome to the Block Party
Mixing Middle Competition, 2022

Zoning bylaws and policies have been developed within a values-based system that is historically rooted in capitalist and colonialist ideals.[1] The result is that our zoning laws are often oppressive structures that create brittle and inflexible systems that struggle to adapt to rapidly evolving ways of life and community needs, including changing family structures and compositions, epidemics, housing security, and the climate crisis. At best, they can be out of touch with changing attitudes and ways of living. At worst, they can act as a functional tool of oppression, reducing access to democratic society to a select few (i.e. landowners),[2] contribute to a bored, complacent, and even radicalized middle class,[3] and directly contribute to the commodification of dignified housing.[4]

Current zoning laws "take aim at ambiguity," seeking to define the unknown, favouring predictability, hoping to pre-empt and reduce friction.[5] The result is the development of overdetermined form and land use, the creation of risk-adverse homogeneous developments that appeal to a broad contingent of investors and financiers as "inoffensive." The commodification of housing reduces family homes to simple currency units that can be most easily traded on financial markets. 

Homes are not currency units, and ambiguity is not our enemy. A predictable and circumscribed life is not only a boring life, but also a life that fears adventure and turns away from difficulties.[6] At a time of unprecedented housing shortages, ongoing climate events, food insecurity, a global pandemic, and political polarization, it is essential that we develop cities that help us to deal with ambiguity and difficulty, and to build in community resilience that allows us to turn towards (and even celebrate) the unknown and unexpected. 

Austintatious examines an overhaul to zoning sensibilities to both empower the Planner to work within a context of "positive guidance" to emphasize quality (aesthetic, functional or otherwise) of space and place, and to empower homeowners to make their own neighbourhoods. We propose that we embrace ambiguity, champion the role that dissonance plays in fostering respect for the "other," and support owner-driven development that occurs organically and responds to changing needs. Let's resist the urge to spoil the ending of the story before it has even been written. 

proposal | Design Competition

partners | Lee Halwa (Fringe Architecture); Gordon Yiu


meet the neighbourhood


Owner of Stick and Spoke Bicycle Repair + Tattoo Parlour
Zazz is down to earth, kind, normal, and a not-at-all-seedy tattoo artist and bicycle repair person. They are currently working on the development of a new fixed-gear, rideable tattoo gun, which uses 99% less energy than typical tattoo guns.  

  • Bicycle storage + bicycle charging stations, rental + repair

  • Housing with dedicated affordable housing

  • Housing designed for families, accessible + ground-oriented

  • Small-scale, affordable commercial rental options for local business owners

  • Dwelling oriented for maximum solar benefit

Trixie G.

Gig Economist and Roving Delivery Guru
Trixie is a global leader in fierce style and joyful aesthetic expression. Everyone knows Trixie, as best as an enigma like Trixie can truly be known...

  • Dedicated public pathways from municipal street to lane

  • Joyful aesthetic

Manny Quinn

Owner of Discount Manny Quinn's Neighbourhood Supply
Manny Quinn may own and operate the local neighbourhood shop (stocked full of Lysol wipes and toilet paper), but he is best known for his sculptural neighbourhood interventions using discount mannequin supplies that he imports from Burquitlam.

  • Community supplies at walking distance

  • Destination/gathering plaza

  • Public art

  • Community potable water connection

The Tall Can Cinema Club

(Baby Harry, Jas, Glenn, and Hunter)
These beverage-loving teens host an outdoor cinema club: Jas is the technician and projectionist extraordinaire, Glenn can be found testing out new recipes for his beloved concession, Hunter (the local cinephile) curates a selection of arthouse and 1990's teen films, and Baby Harry's dad lets them use his backyard.

  • Community power/electrical hookup

  • Outdoor community event rental area

  • Big pants as movie screen

Concerned Neighbour

Every neighbourhood's got one–this one needs to learn to lean in: Less self, more other!

  • Passive aggressive behaviour

  • Neighbourhood watch

  • Unused front yard with magnificent hedges

  • 2 parking stalls per dwelling


Will Keel

DIY Blacksmith + Sharp Object Enthusiast
Will is a maker at heart and loves nothing more than the spectacle of fabrication. Except for maybe knives and cigars.

  • Housing with dedicated affordable options

  • Housing designed for families, accessible + ground-oriented 

  • Dwelling oriented for maximum solar benefit

  • Community maker space + co-op shared office space

  • Community kitchen

  • Solar panel community power supply



Absent Neighbour
Alice grows flowers from her backyard for sale at parties, and is a seasoned portraiture artist. She works closely with her friend and neighbour Lepusia on urban agriculture projects. She's usually around, but today she's off getting her COVID booster shot.

  • Community garden space

  • Increased site porosity + biodiversity

  • Fully vaccinated

Lepusia + MaiBeddy

Breeds Like Rabbits! Urban Agriculture +

Children's Learning Emporium
Lepusia and her son MaiBeddy are budding urban agricultural enthusiasts, with a focus on Rabbit Husbandry (MaiBeddy recently won the yellow 4H ribbon for his prized rabbit, Hubert). The two work closely with local daycare facilities to provide hands-on children's learning opportunities.

  • Afforable neighbourhood child and pet daycare

  • Increased porosity + biodiversity

  • Neighbourhood lookout tower


Developer Opportunist, The Luxury Tub Experience
Iam sees the potential of the community and has decided to launch his latest business venture from a bathtub in his backyard. If you can't afford a luxury condo, rent a tub and soak in the view!

  • Community potable water connection

  • Block party infrastructure



Carol's Mini Carrots
Carol's business is deeply integrated into the community–she provides happy snacks for the children and rabbits of the neighbourhood, and shares a fabrication studio with the other makers in the neighbourhood.

  • Community workshop space

  • Tool and fabrication equipment library


Owner of Floor is Java Neighbourhood Coffee +

3D-Printed Ice Cream
Florence is an industrious inventor and lover of all things high octane, including coffee, chocolate, and jet fuel. She's tired of driving her race car to get her morning caffeine/endorphin fix. 

  • Outdoor gathering area and areas of respite

  • Covered/rain protected area for communal use

Dylan + Hack

Tiktok Dog Walker + Neighbourhood Cutiepie
Dylan's best friend Hack is a local influencer–you can spot them choreographing dog dances for Tiktok throughout the neighbourhood.

  • Community audio/video equipment rental

  • Furbaby in hat reduces latent community anxiety


  1. Henri Lefebvre, The Right to the City, from “The Anarchist’s Library,” accessed January 11, 2022 

  2. Henri Lefebvre, The Right to the City, from “The Anarchist’s Library,” accessed January 11, 2022 

  3. Tom Nichols, “Fears that US Democracy is Backsliding,” interview by Matt Galloway, The Current, CBC Radio, December 1, 2021. 

  4. Matthew Soules, Icebergs, Zombies, Ultra Thin: Architecture and Capitalism in the Twenty First Century. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2021. 

  5. Sennett + Sendra, Designing Disorder 

  6. Sennett + Sendra, Designing Disorder 

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