Let's talk about...lost spaces


Festival Hall is an adaptable 225 seat performance space on a residential street in Inglewood and is home to the business office of the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Peter Cardew was commissioned to design the building and created the hall to enhance the valued qualities of the community. He was inspired by the “frank, purposeful and architecturally modest” character of Inglewood and brought these honest elements to the construction of the building. The interior, inspired by early Texan dancehalls uses cross-hatched trusses built with century-old reclaimed timber. Local and regional repurposed materials were used throughout the building. 

Lauda Images

Lauda Images


A thoughtful evening considered the left-over, in-between, underutilized, overlooked spaces in the city and the potential they hold in terms of biodiversity, public use, commercial venture and beyond. What opportunities lie in using and transforming these spaces and should we change them?


"Second Nature": A Documentary Film About Janne Saario (Landscape Architect and Professional Skateboarder)

Director: Yves Marchon


With Matthew Passmore of Morelab

David Low, Victoria Park BRZ

Chris Manderson, City of Calgary Parks

Gian-Carlo Carra, City of Calgary Councilor Ward 9 (Moderator)

Lauda Images

Lauda Images


Panelists considered lost spaces in the city of Calgary and the potential therein, from abandoned construction sites, to urban parcels of land ripe with native plants and species, to privately owned “public spaces”. Within these lost spaces lie the breathing space of city life, offering opportunities for preservation, exploration, discovery, the unexpected, spontaneous and the risky.

Chris Manderson considers lost spaces to be “the ghosts of planning past”. As an ecologist who works with City of Calgary Parks he is concerned with natural area management and habitat restoration. He considers landscapes, animals and ecosystems in the city and highlights the importance of connectivity and flows between natural spaces. Preservation of natural areas in cities means re-introducing the human scale and thinking about the city as a place interwoven with the surrounding landscape, not just as a city with parks in it. Lost spaces are more than the loss of individual places but part of a lost landscape. Urban afflictions like ring roads effectively wring the city, and cut off the connectivity of natural spaces, ecosystems and animals, elements intrinsic to balancing biodiversity in the city. Next time you visit McHugh Bluff and other wild places in Calgary consider them as vital integrated places that benefit urban and regional ecology.

Matthew Passmore founder of MoreLab in Oakland California creates artworks, installations and experiences that examine our understanding of the social, political and ecological dynamics of public space. MoreLab has worked with cultural institutions, government agencies and private entities to enhance the quality, character and understanding of the public realm. Through his Commonspace project Passmore has considered designated “Privately Owned Public Spaces” (POPOS) in San Francisco and developed mischievous and clever ways to test their “public-ness” such as “Nappening” a free public napping event and “wellness seminar”.

Inspired by stalled development in Victoria Park, David Low and the Victoria Park BRZ have been experimenting with pop-ups, markets, and parkettes as place-making initiatives. An abandoned construction site was repurposed with decks, plantings, benches, pathways, and an open platform for pop-up markets and store fronts. While this project brightened up the area and is a welcoming connection between first street SW and Haultain park, the highlight is the unintended and surprise consequences of taking a space and re-finding it. Skateboarders, guerilla gardeners, and residents posting signs of care and consideration for their community were unexpected litmus tests of enthusiasm and engagement.

Photo Courtesy of Jesus Martin Ruiz

Photo Courtesy of Jesus Martin Ruiz


In partnership with WATERSHED+ and the City of Calgary, d.talks is excited to announce our inaugural design competition inspired by lost spaces. Please stay tuned for the exciting details on dtalks.org or @dtalks_yyc.

Send us photos your lost spaces via twitter and instagram tagged #dtalkslostspaces or email them to hello@dtalks.org.

Lauda Images

Lauda Images


Thank you to all of our independently minded supporters and friends: Festival Hall, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, Bite Groceteria, Caffe Rosso, Beer Revolution and First Calgary Financial.