VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #230 | It Had Floating Public Saunas In False Creek

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(via) In Finland, citizens have the option of the Sauna Lauta, a three deck floating sauna with hammocks, outdoor grills, and diving platforms for dips after hot hot hot sessions inside the sauna. If the powers that be are serious about their “most liveable city” nonsense, they’ll green light a pilot project wherein a dozen of these bookable babies can be accessed at different points along False Creek…

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #229 | It Had A Few Pieces Of Rain Activated Art

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(via) You know how when it’s sunny there are a million things to do and everyone is super excited about all of them, but when it’s raining nobody gives a damn about anything and they just want to go home and sulk until the sun comes out again? It would be nice – cool, even – if we had reasons to look forward to the rain. Not for our gardens, slip-and-slides, or Fred Astaire fetishes, but rather to appreciate some public pieces of art that were only visible in the wet.

Such is the case on an old building’s brick wall in Hartford, Connecticut, where artist Adam Niklewicz created a 30ft x 45ft “Charter Oak” tree – a symbol of American independence – using sealant, stencils, and graphite transfers. According to Niklewicz, “Public art should embrace the existing environment and work to enrich reality.” We couldn’t agree more.

While it’s true that Vancouver doesn’t have the deep well of historical context to draw from that Hartford does, I’m sure we could come up with a few ideas for similar wall treatments. How about the iconic maple tree that Vancouver’s early settlers used to meet under to seek shade, shelter, and gossip? It was located in Maple Tree Square (the heart of Gastown), right where the statue of Gassy Jack Deighton stands today. I’d like to see it again, wouldn’t you?

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #228 | An Artist Made Our Cityscape Into A Sphere

February 13, 2014 

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(via) Philadelphian designer James McNabb creates these beautiful “City Spheres” using scrap wood, and we think someone from Vancouver should give it a shot employing native woods and our own skyline. Bonus awesomeness: check out his City Wheel. How cool is that?!

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #227 | It Had A Fleet Of 1972 Citroen Wine Trucks

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Are you done high-fiving your friends over the modernization of most of BC’s archaic and patently ridiculous liquor laws? Good! Because until there are a fleet of these awesome looking 1972 Citroen H French vans constantly breaking down, flinging open their panelled sides and serving “to go” cups of local wine all across Vancouver, you need to stay angry and unsatisfied. Where, pray, does the fantastic beast pictured above exist in the first place? Exactly where you’d expect.

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #226 | Its Tourists Were Given Photo Instructions

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(via) Here’s an interesting idea. Miami ad school snobs grads Mimi Chan and Utsavi Jhaveri were so exhausted by all the bad tourist Instagram photos of San Francisco and New York that they traveled around the cities themselves to discover exactly where the best vantage points were. They then spray-stencilled those spots with foot-outlines and the hashtag #noshittyphotos so that tourists could step up their game. To be honest, we don’t like the idea of everyone taking the same photos, and we like the idea of taking instructions from ad school grads even less. Still, it sure would speed things up in Vancouver, where the Five Sails are all too often Two or Three Sails. No Gastown steam clock shots, though. You can’t stencil on fake cobblestones. You just can’t.

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #225 | Bicycles Could Cruise Above The SkyTrain

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We absolutely love this rendering by UK architecture firm Foster + Partners for their SkyCycle concept. If you squint a little, it looks like the SkyTrain line between Science World and Chinatown/Stadium stations.  The British design would see dedicated bike paths installed above the 136 miles of suburban rail lines that snake in and out of London, which is all kinds of amazing pipe dream stuff. Does Vancouver need this? Not really. The cost would be so prohibitive as to be amusing, and the ranting from both sides of Vancouver’s spectacularly stupid bike lane divide would prove too insufferable a daily torment. We just wouldn’t be able to stand it. Still, Vancouver would be a little cooler if its SkyTrain – where it runs parallel with the Dunsmuir Viaduct - had a traversable roof of some kind. And you are free to deny that at your soul’s peril.

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #224 | It Had A Tricksy Turkish Ice Cream Vendor

December 30, 2013 

(via) We like ice cream. Like, a lot. We were the first in the door at Earnest Ice Cream on Fraser St. and the first to ever try a Rain Or Shine ice cream taco on West 4th. We’ve even had the subscription-based Sunday Morning Ice Cream delivered to our office. But what we really, really want (and have yet to see locally) is a rad fez-hatted Turkish vendor with a mega-stache doling out ice cream in the wicked fashion seen above. Someone, this summer, please! Start growing your whiskers and get training with the tricks.

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #223 | We Could Ride Hot Noodle Hangover Taxis

December 20, 2013 

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Yup, it’s a thing, albeit a viral marketing thing (a girl can dream). In the UK, noodle brand Kabuto has extended a special service through the holiday season wherein those with hangovers can book one of their Kab-U-To Work taxis for their morning commute. “Once booked, the taxi will pick you up from your doorstep and not only drive you to work, but serve you a pot of hot Kabuto soup noodles and fresh orange juice, together with a care package consisting of a pair of sunglasses, some paracetamol [for headaches] and a packet of breath mints.” The service is currently free during a pre-Christmas trial period, with rides hailed via Twitter. Bonus: personalized chopsticks!

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #222 | Its Libraries Had Giant Reading Hammocks

November 21, 2013 

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(via) The fun-loving creatives at Spanish design house Play Office have come up with a way to make reading more fun for kids with this gigantic suspended net that functions as a reading hammock. I dare say it would make reading more fun for adults, too, which is why our public libraries should install them straight away. Sure we might have to sign waiver forms, wear helmets, and stand in a line-up because only two people would ever be allowed to enjoy it at once, but an hour hanging out in one of these would be worth whatever restrictions the nanny’s would throw at it. Making it wheelchair accessible might prove a bit of a problem, but that’s what engineers are for. Yay future!

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #221 | It Had London’s Office Craft Beer Deliveries

November 12, 2013 

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A recently launched subscription service in London delivers locally brewed craft beer to City offices every Friday. The miracle is aptly called Desk Beers.

How does it work? “You and your team do awesome stuff during the week (like always). We drop by at some point Friday afternoon with this week’s pick. You call it a week and sip back on some serious beer. You did good.” Here are the FAQs:

What beer will we get? You’ll get what you’re given, but it’ll be top notch. We’ll do our best to get the best beers at the best times. So expect light & hoppy in summer, and dark and filling in winter.

Will all the beers be the same? Each week, yes. Drinking and discovering beer isn’t something to do alone. Everyone gets the same beer. You taste, you comment, you taste again. No one misses out. Everyone’s happy.

When will it be delivered? At some point Friday afternoon. We will aim to get it to you no later than 5pm. No one should have to wait that late for a beer.

Do you only deliver on Fridays? For now, yes. But we have big plans, and we know that beer isn’t just for Fridays. Don’t worry, we’re on it.

Who will deliver it? Your new best friends.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have someone arrive at your office every Friday with some suds? It’s really not hard to imagine Parallel 49 one week, some Brassneck the next, some 33 Acres the week after, and some Red Truck to close out the month. It would be great for company morale, and a fun way for local breweries to broaden their nets.

Sadly, of course, our local liquor laws likely wouldn’t allow a service like this to get past the drawing board, but who knows? Maybe someday. The times they are a’ changing.

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #220 | Picnic Tables Doubled As Art Installations

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(via) Vancouver has plenty of “public” art, but not nearly enough of it is employable by said public. That’s why we dig this vertically looped picnic table designed by Michael Beitz, which currently sits atop the roof of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin. They’d fit well in most public spaces, but for starters we think they’d gel especially well in False Creek’s Olympic Village.

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #219 | A Giant Bookstore Moved Into A Cathedral

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When the evangelical Westside Church bought the 1,800 seat Centre in Vancouver For Performing Arts on Homer St. earlier this year, I was pretty disappointed. My religious beliefs had nothing to do with it. No one likes to see a cultural institution fall by the wayside.

OK, that’s not entirely true. It bothered me to learn that the same venue that gave people a chance to see the Nutcracker was becoming a church. I didn’t like that its leader was a master at ambiguously dancing around his church’s stance on homosexuality. I didn’t like it one bit.

I mean, Tchaikovsky was gay, so the thought of at least some of this congregation – possibly believing in their generous hearts that the brilliant composer of the 1812 Overture was suffering an eternity in hell – worshipping in the same location where Tchaikovsky’s glorious notes once fittingly resonated is tricky for me to reconcile, try as I might.

But live and let live, right? That’s how they roll in The Netherlands, where a 1465 Dominican Monastery was recently converted into a bookstore (see above). The Dutch firm of BK Architecten was sensitive enough to preserve the pipe organ, the stained glass, and the ceiling art, but the reverence that the design once inspired is now for learning, not God. The conversion, to me, is just as beautiful as the original.

So with Christianity’s popularity on the local wane (non-believers are now in the clear majority in Vancouver), it’s fair to wonder if the future will see our increasingly under-utilized churches, maybe even our cathedrals, playing host to punk rock shows, operas, book fairs, ballets, flea markets, and performances of the Trio for Strings in B-flat major by Franz Schubert (cough – also gay – cough).

That isn’t meant to be an insult to Christians or religious people in general. Far from it. I only mean to say that if houses of the holy are permitted to supplant our cultural institutions, then it shouldn’t be a one-way street.

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #218 | It Had A Massive Treehouse In Stanley Park

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(via) This five-storey, 97ft high treehouse in Tennessee includes a church, bell tower, an antique church pew, a stained-glass window of Jesus, a choir loft, and a make-shift basketball court. There are some 80 rooms and cloisters in total. It took a priest and a handful of faithful $12,000, a quarter million nails, and 14 years to build it around a base of 6 oak trees. It was just entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, presumably as the most awesome thing ever. Had he chosen to build it here in Vancouver, he probably would have had some grief navigating the dual downers of the City of Vancouver’s Engineering Department and the Parks Board, but who knows? The Lord (I’m told) works in mysterious ways…

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VANCOUVER WOULD BE COOLER IF #217 | Our Tourism Ads Were Made By Norwegians

Vancouver’s tourism ads have jumped the shark. One can always anticipate a treatment of the skyline (via seaplane), a mountain vignette (usually more than one), shots of Chinatown, inukshuks, kayakers, rainforest warriors, First Nations dancers, killer whales, and so on. They’re so very predictable. The Yankee state of Massachusetts has long shared this predicament, only with Fenway Park, autumn colours, statues of John Adams, and the equally “expected” like being the same same anchor around their necks. Lucky for them, a Scandinavian group called Ylvis put together a new tourism video that captures it all in uniquely weird fashion (see above), complete with Nelson Mandela’s house and a little latent homo-eroticism. If the troupe would come to Vancouver to produce a similar video, we’d be ever so happy to host them and show them around.

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