Urbanarium launches the Mixing Middle competition

A new international ideas competition called the Mixing Middle calls for mixed-use designs intended to revitalize residential areas in four Metro Vancouver communities.

Launched by Urbanarium The Mixing Middle, registration for the competition is open now through Nov. 2, 2021. Competition sites have been chosen in four municipalities in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia: Surrey, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, and Vancouver.
All sites are in single-family residential-use zones. Some of these municipalities permit basement suites and laneway houses, but not other uses. The Mixing Middle aims to create more vibrant neighbourhoods that meet the needs of intergenerational and multi-cultural residents by expanding the ways that people live, work, create, and caregive. 

“The past 19 months of the pandemic have made us even more attuned to the resources — or lack thereof — in our local community,” says Amy Nugent, executive director of Urbanarium. “This extended period of working from home, providing care for others, and self-isolation has led to many people considering alternatives to conventional living and working spaces. How can we embed new cultural practices, social enterprise, and services into rigid, single-family zoned neighbourhoods, and develop a lifestyle that is more viable in today’s tech-infused world?”

The Mixing Middle is the follow-up to Urbanarium’s 2018 competition The Missing Middle, which addressed the city’s affordable housing crisis by inviting aspiring and established design teams to develop innovative solutions to densification challenges.  

Applicants can be individuals or teams, and do not need to be registered professionals or local to B.C. Multidisciplinary teams with students or youth members are encouraged to apply as well. Submission guidelines are provided, but should not be viewed as strict parameters — creativity, ambition, and even the fantastical are all welcome. 

After registration closes, each entrant will be assigned a four-block zone. The zones were selected for their proximity to established commercial areas. Proposals can help increase the walkability of the zone, house businesses that were displaced by commercial development, and even build new relationships between small business owners and commercial entities. 

Winning ideas will share $35,000 in cash prizes and profiles in magazines, videos, presentations to councils and municipal staff, possible demonstration projects, and future commissions. Alongside a $10,000 first prize is a planners’ prize of $10,000.

The submission deadline is Jan. 14, 2022, and winners will be announced on Feb. 11, 2022, in an awards ceremony. 

To learn more about The Mixing Middle, visit themixingmiddle.ca.

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