Vancouver's Architectural debates are rubbish.
We've all been there: a panel of similar designers with similar views taking it in turns to talk at length about their similar work - too polite, too deferential, too dull. At best they are lukewarm love-ins, critically impotent, elitist and stuffy. Turncoats is a shot in the arm. Framed by theatrically provocative opening gambits, a series of debates will rugby tackle fundamental issues facing contemporary practice with a playful and combative format designed to foment open and critical discussion, turning conventional consensus on its head.

So What?

Friday 25 October, 2019

Vancouver’s sky-high cost of living has made it nearly impossible to make art here. You know what’s also hard? Starting a business, starting a family, buying a home, finding an apartment, commuting safely and comfortably, making a living wage, and affording freakin’ groceries. Everyone who didn’t win the property lottery is about two paycheques away from financial disaster in this wasteland of decadence. Why should artists be spared the struggle? Get creative like the rest of us! Make art that can be used to launder money from overseas. Make art in your parents’ basement. If all else fails, move your studio to Abbotsford!

The Panel

  • Neil Campbell is a Canadian artist, currently based in Vancouver.

  • Sandy Garossino is a former Crown prosecutor and prominent media commentator, whose bold commentary is read by millions across North America.

  • Brian McBay is Executive Director of 221A, a Vancouver-based non-profit organization that works with artists and designers to research and develop social, cultural and ecological infrastructure.

  • Amy Nugent is a cultural worker and resource developer.

  • 6pm
  • Friday 25 October, 2019
  • $10
  • DUDOC Vancouver
  • 1489 Frances Street
  • Vancouver, BC V5L 1Z1

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Welcome to the Design Desert

Wednesday 9 May, 2018

Who doesn’t want to throw up when reading useless labels like “most liveable city”, “greenest city”, or “hotspot for sustainable design”? Nothing can cover up the harsh reality: If not for its famed geography and picturesque surroundings, Vancouver would be a third or fourth tier city. Where are the buildings and public spaces that are artful, intelligent and innovative? Where are the ideas? Design isn’t valued here. We’re thirsty for an oasis in this design desert!

The Panel

  • Sophie Maguire is a choreographer and landscape designer working at the intersection of drawing, history, and performance. She currently works as a project designer at PFS Studio.

  • Derek Lee is a principal at PWL Partnership. His locally recognized accomplishments include his lead design direction on the community planning and implementation of Southeast False Creek, Dockside Green and New Westminster Pier Park.

  • Anne Pearson is a recovered- architect, design-advocate and owner of the furniture+design shop Vancouver Special on Main Street.

  • Travis Hanks is a co-founder and Principal Architect at Haeccity Studio Architecture, and is an Adjunct Professor at UBC SALA.

  • 6pm
  • Wednesday 9 May, 2018
  • $11
  • 1489 Frances Street
  • Vancouver, BC V5L 1Z1

Freedom is Slavery

Friday 16 February, 2018

Social engineering is hot this season! Architects have formulated the cure for loneliness. Planners are able to fix obesity. The boldest designers even claim to know how to make you happy. These eager, self-appointed manipulators have taken the helm from the last group who tinkered with social engineering. That experiment blew up the lab. But the experiment is being run again. Is the cycle doomed to repeat itself, or will the lab rats revolt?

The Panel

  • Peeroj Thakre is a principal at ph5 architecture and co-founder of the non-profit Urban Republic. Her practice is a mix of weird and ordinary stuff.

  • Stewart Burgess became an architect/social engineer two weeks ago and now has strong opinions on modern architecture/social engineering. Outside of having strong opinions he works at Carscadden Stokes Mcdonald Architects, is active with the Vancouver Public Space Network and Heritage Vancouver.

  • Marianne Amodio is an architect and owner of marianne amodio architecture studio.

  • Andrea Reimer has served as a Vancouver City Councillor since 2008. She is a member of the Greenest City Action Team, Chair of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment, Director of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and the Executive Director of the Wilderness Committee.

  • 6pm
  • Friday 16 February, 2018
  • $11
  • 303 East 8th Avenue
  • Vancouver, BC V5T 1S2

Give Up, Sell Out, Buy In

Turncoats @ SALA
Friday 24 November, 2017

Throughout their histories, architecture and landscape architecture have done only one thing well; served power. Each practice has flirted with moral pursuits like social justice or economic equity. Those experiments were a waste of time at best and wholesale disasters at worst. To believe that buildings and landscapes can save the world is a special kind of delusion unique to students and professionals who live off trust funds. Everyone else has moved on.

The Panel

  • Olivia Bull is in her third year at SALA. Prior to this, she received a Bachelor of Arts from McGill, she exhibited and is published as a photographer, and generally, she had a life. Not anymore.

  • Maxim Pravosoudov is a SALA Alumni. Before moving out west he worked for nearly a decade in Toronto, with experience focused on community advocacy and public facilities.

  • Sam Hart graduated from Carleton University’s School of Architecture in 2014 and worked for the Toronto based KPMB Architects. She is her second year at SALA.

  • Jeremy Schipper is a his third year at SALA. He has a background in Film, English, and Cultural Studies. He has yet to win a single argument against panelist Olivia Bull.

  • 6pm
  • Friday 24 November, 2017
  • free
  • Lasserre 202
  • 6333 Memorial Rd
  • Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2

God Has Left the Details

Friday 5 May, 2017

Salivating over the way pieces of a building come together is a dangerous fetish. Most clear-headed people aren’t moved to tears by a carefully placed reveal or a custom handrail. They regard those who are as elitist and out of touch. The scale and speed of today’s design problems utterly dwarf the subtlety of architectural details. Don’t get lost in the pixels. It’s the picture that matters!

The Panel

  • Ian McDonald is a partner Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects located in Vancouver. He taught at the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture from 2005 until 2013, and was at one time, an aspiring Vancouver School Board candidate.

  • Ali Kenyon is an architect and designer at HCMA Architecture + Design. She has worked for Droog in Amsterdam, Molo in Vancouver, and curated the exhibition Tangential Vancouversim through 221a in 2012.

  • Mark Ritchie is a principal and co-founder of Architecture Building Culture. He has practiced internationally, run practices on two continents and was a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Architecture and Design from 2002 to 2004.

  • Andrew Latreille is an architectural photographer based in both Vancouver and Melbourne whose photos have been highly awarded. He is a trained and registered non-practising architect in Australia.

  • 6pm
  • Friday 5 May, 2017
  • $10
  • 303 East 8th Avenue
  • Vancouver, BC V5T 1S2

Paper Architecture

Friday 17 March, 2017

Architectural education has given into theoretical speculation, social activism and a tsunami of new technologies producing nothing more than hollow concepts, naive ideals and flashy renderings. Where is the eye for detail, materiality and technical skills? Do students a favor and teach them to do more than dream.

The Panel

  • Erick Villagomez is the Editor-in-chief at Spacing Vancouver and founding principal of Metis Design|Build. He is also an educator, independent researcher and designer with academic and professional interests in the human settlements at all scales.

  • Shelley Long is a landscape designer at HAPA Collaborative and adjunct professor at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

  • Alexander Mercer has a diverse background in philosophy, history and the humanities, and is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Design at UBC.

  • Misha Das is a M.Arch student at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. His background is in political science, economics, business and entrepreneurship.

  • 6pm
  • Friday 17 March, 2017
  • $10
  • 303 East 8th Avenue
  • Vancouver, BC V5T 1S2

Design the Wall

Thursday 26 January, 2017

Say what you will about a Trump presidency, it will be good for business. When the leader of the free world is a real estate developer, architects will still just be service providers, and that’s okay. Architects shouldn't be political. Some of history’s most celebrated buildings were built under regimes with stomach churning track records. Getting upset about policy is a distraction from doing great work. Spare us your hysteria! Buildings outlast politicians.

The Panel

  • AnnaLisa Meyboom is an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture at UBC and Director of the Transportation Infrastructure and Public Space Lab at UBC, and owner of the design practice, InfrastructureStudio. Her research areas include the integration of engineering and architecture at all scales, emphasizing the ability to integrate the highly technical, the beautiful and the environmental simultaneously and seamlessly into built form.

  • Jennifer Cutbill is a project Architect at Local Practice Architecture. Her background is in fine arts, systems ecology, and sustainability policy; and her work focuses on regenerative design and strategic agency. She is also a Regional Director of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, and acting Chair of its national Environmental Committee; co-Founder and Director of Vancouver Design Week; and a retired competitive Thai boxer.

  • Alicia Breck is an adjunct professor at the School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture at UBC and a project manager at Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. Her work and research addresses the social and political impact of architecture and urbanism in 21st century city building.

  • May So is an Associate at Henriquez Partners Architects whose work is driven by social justice. She has contributed design and project leadership to the Woodward’s Redevelopment and is currently working on Mirvish Village an affordable rental housing project in Toronto. May is a contirbutor to the books “Towards an Ethical Architecture” and “Body Heat: The Story of the Woodward’s Redevelopment.”

  • 5pm
  • Thursday 26 January, 2017
  • $10
  • Inform Interiors
  • 50 Water St
  • Vancouver, BC V6B 1A4 CA

We Got This

Thursday 17 November, 2016

The technocrats have triumphed! More than ever, cities are shaped by an expanding army of specialists who, confounded by an onslaught of economic, demographic and environmental pressures, robotically approach city making with a kit of technical solutions. When was the last time you were inspired to linger in one of these formulaic places? What happened to the vision? It’s time to put the responsibility for city making back in the hands of the original generalists: the architects!

The Panel

  • Leslie Van Duzer is a Professor of Architecture at UBC, and has taught in over a dozen schools of architecture across the US, Europe and Japan. She is the former Director of School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) and a founder of the Urbanarium.

  • Bruce Carscadden is a Senior Partner at Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects, and founded the predecessor firm of Bruce Carscadden Architect in 2001. He has over 30 years of post-graduate experience in architecture, and is a leading specialist in Western Canada of aquatic, recreation and public architecture.

  • Neal Lamontagne is a former senior planner with the cities of Vancouver and North Vancouver and is the co-chair of the Vancouver City Planning Commission and vice-chair of the Vancouver Urban Design Panel. He is an adjunct professor with the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning and the Langara Applied Planning program. He is currently working on a PhD in urban planning at UCLA.

  • Mitchell Reardon is an urbanist at Metropolitan Collective, and also collaborates with Happy City, IBI Group and Nordregio. His interdisciplinary work centres on people and how they live, work and move through the city. Mitchell is enjoying life in Vancouver, after spending 6 years living and working in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 6pm
  • Thursday 17 November, 2016
  • $10
  • DUDOC Dutch Urban Design Centre
  • 1445 West Georgia Street
  • Vancouver, BC V6G 2T3 CA

Green Wash

Thursday 1 September, 2016

Sustainability rhetoric is unsustainable. From expensive curtain-wall glass assemblies to checklist driven design solutions, green building is not only unaffordable; the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s shred our green shroud and design first and foremost for people, not planet.

The Panel

  • Joe Dahmen is founder of AFJD and assistant professor of design and sustainability integration at the UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, where he teaches design studios and building technology courses.

  • Kaitlyn Gillis is project manager at Light House Sustainable Building Centre. Her most recent research looked at the restorative potential of biophilic design in work and living spaces.

  • Nicholas Waissbluth is an artist, architectural designer and cofounder of uAbureau, an international collective based in Spain, Canada and Colombia. His work seeks to promote and showcase social + participatory design build projects.

  • Caitlin Jones is the Executive Director of the Western Front Society in Vancouver. Last year, she curated Urgent Imagination, a two-part project that proposed creative alternatives to Vancouver’s current mode of developer-driven architecture and urban planning.
  • 6pm
  • Thursday 1 September, 2016
  • $10
  • DUDOC Dutch Urban Design Centre
  • 1445 West Georgia Street
  • Vancouver, BC V6G 2T3 CA

Original Sin

Friday 1 April

We deride the derivative, we mock mimics, we fear facsimiles. Why? Hollywood reboots movies, theatre directors restage plays, musicians make covers. The best cultural production comes from the clear consensus that iterating is inventive yet in architecture we despise copying above all things. Our elitist and egotistical obsession with cosmetic novelty necessitates the endless, pointless, reinvention of form, reducing architecture to a spectacle of super-size billboard branding. Is bad originality preferable to a brilliant copy? Bullshit!

The Panel

  • Clinton Cuddington is an architect and the founding principal of Measured Architecture Inc., an award-winning full-service architectural firm specializing in high quality, high performance modern buildings.

  • Fernanda Hannah teaches design and is the co-owner of Monzu and Hannah Design, a local firm focusing on residential and reclaimed wood designs. She has lived and worked in Barcelona, New York and Mexico City.

  • Javier Campos is a designer and founder of Campos Studio. His work includes several highly-awarded buildings, public art pieces, and competition entries.

  • Alicia Medina is a cofounder and director at the Laboratory for Housing Alternatives (LOHA), as well as an intern architect at Marianne Amodio Architecture Studio. Her work has crossed boundaries between architecture, interior design, graphic design, public space installation and craft brewing.
  • TBA
  • 6pm
  • Friday 1 April
  • $10
  • DUDOC Dutch Urban Design Centre
  • 1445 West Georgia Street
  • Vancouver, BC V6G 2T3 CA


Turncoats Vancouver is a project by Tony Osborn and Kees Lokman. For all enquiries write to tony@toad.design

Supported by

Courtroom artists

Julia Casol
Nicole Sylvia
Mac Page
Alexander Ring

Special thanks

Matthew Harty
Ryan Brown
Amber Williams
Nicholas Evans
Sean Casey
Jani Mitanovski

Any group of people with a thirst for intellectual mischief can join the Society of Turncoats and form a chapter in their city. Membership in the society is free. Once a member your chapter can use and improve the format to host official Turncoats events. It began with Architecture, but can be transposed to other disciplines in need of an alternative format to niggle into the depths of difficult issues.

Email hello@turncoats.world about setting up a chapter.

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