Urbanarium provides Metro Vancouver with a platform for the discussion of ideas and issues about the planning and design of communities - how our urban systems and the forces acting on them work, what urban futures might happen and what we can do to affect those outcomes. We create competitions, debates, studios, talks, maps and tours that help us discover more about ourselves and our cities.
Our intention is to become a respected place for advanced urban conversation and reliable information without political or ideological bias.
The Vancouver Urbanarium Society acknowledges that Metro Vancouver is the unceded, traditional, and ancestral territory of many First Nations including 10 local First Nations: the Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, Squamish, Tsawwassen, and Tsleil-Waututh. The modern housing crisis has its roots in the colonisation of Metro Vancouver and continues to displace Indigenous peoples. As an organization that focuses on city-making, Urbanarium knows that how we relate to the land we occupy matters. We are engaged in active discussions about reconciling our relationship to colonialism. Our programming and other outputs will work to reflect and honour Indigenous perspectives and elevate respectful approaches to land use and land rights planning, policy, practices and governance.
How is Urbanarium organized?
Vancouver Urbanarium Society is a registered charity led by an 18-person Board of Directors made up of architects, landscape architects, planners, developers, community organization leaders and other professionals who are passionate about city building. As well, we have 12 distinguished individuals on a Board of Advisors and 100 plus energetic and committed volunteers.
The Urbanarium started and continues to be led and supported by the interests, time and financial contributions of many individuals, organizations and companies.
We are currently in the process of Strategic and Succession Planning. A big part of this is diversifying our Board of Directors, a working Board that steers the organization through fundraising, programming and governance. We are actively seeking Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to join our Board. If you are interested in getting involved please write firstname.lastname@example.org
When was the Urbanarium organization formed?
Urbanarium 1.0 was founded in 1985 by Ray Spaxman, former City of Vancouver Director of Planning, with a board of public-spirited citizens. In 1987 the first exhibition and series of live events, Urbanarium: Lost/Unbuilt Vancouver, was held over a three week period at the Old Motor Vehicle Testing Station on West Georgia Street.
Urbanarium 2.0 produced live events in 1990 and 1991, then followed with an ongoing series of debates, retrospectives and lectures, Builders of Vancouver, jointly promoted with the Alcan Lecture Series from 1992-1998. A second group, URBANARIUM…. at the Museum, partnered with Museum of Vancouver to develop annual exhibitions from 1993 through 1996.
In 2013, during meetings of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Advisory Board, the Urbanarium 3.0 was revived in discussion to answer the need for an organization that would foster intelligent city building.
Urbanarium 4.0 came when we hired our first executive director in 2020 bringing us closer to our goal of becoming a permanent and more valued institution in Metro Vancouver.
Where is Urbanarium?
In the future Urbanarium will provide a physical setting for exhibits, studios, debates, education and media production. At present, Urbanarium is a catalyst for the creation of events and projects, supporting organizations and residents in Metro Vancouver that are passionate about citymaking.
What is the official status of Urbanarium?
Vancouver Urbanarium Society is a registered charity. The Urbanarium's charity registration number is 83332 5830 RR0001.