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The VAG proposal offers a sheltered space that you don’t have to pay to enter — but you do, in most cases, have to plan to enter.
The gallery bills the design as an “open courtyard” with entrances facing all four surrounding streets. In response to a query from The Tyee, VAG communications officer Debra Zhou forwarded a statement outlining the design’s goal: to create a vibrant space that welcomes diverse pedestrians and museum-goers.
Unlike the current city-regulated space, the new courtyard plan will be controlled by the gallery itself — “for art installations, performances, concerts, film screenings, and collaborative programs with other cultural organizations as well as many of the same uses that take place on the current site.”
The proposed space is surrounded on all corners by a one-storey wood and glass corridor, and divided inside by elevators, escalators and a rectangular sunken garden bed sprouting a row of trees. The design will ensure that the new VAG’s outdoor area is “not just an in-between space but a space that has a form, that can be controlled,” explained its main architect, Herzog & de Meuron principal Christine Binswanger, as she unveiled the design at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last month. She used words like “porous” and “permeable” to describe the wood and glass corridor, which functions as a perimeter wall.
Well, “porous” is a far cry from “open.” For casual strollers along the adjacent streets, the VAG courtyard’s perimeter wall proposes the architectural equivalent of someone turning their back on you. […]