Bruce Mau @ McGill

Bruce Mau, a Canadian designer, recently gave the McGill School of the Environment‘s annual Environment Public Lecture at McGill University, on the ‘Future of Environmental Design,’ based upon the Massive Change exhibit developed for the Vancouver Art Gallery. The show was at the Art Gallery on Ontario in 2005, and will be at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, in the fall of 2006.

The Massive Change project takes an optimistic, design oriented look at global social and environmental problems and suggests there are many existing resources and abilities that can be mobilized to improve the global human well-being, in areas such as transportation, cities, and manufacturing. My favourite part of the Massive Change exhibit was the visualization room – which filled the walls and floor of a room:

Visual Room VAG

The room is set up like a three-dimensional electromagnetic spectrum. The images made from low frequency waves (radio waves) are near the entrance, images made with visible light (red, orange, yellow…) are in the middle of the room, and images made using high frequency waves (gamma waves) are near the exit of the room.

Massive Change is oriented towards market based technological solutions to environmental problems and therefore in the language of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, it fits withthe TechnoGarden scenario, and indeed addresses many of the same issues, such as bus-rapid transit systems.

The exhbit/book/radio show/website were developed by Bruce Mau and a group of design students.

After hearing from Bruce Mau about the what the students did in these project I was inspired to try and build on our project courses in the McGill School of the Environment.
I think it would be great if we could run a similar type of workshop course here at McGill. That is a course that would encourage a team of students (somewhere between 7-25) to imagine what a sustainable McGill or Montreal could look like, and how we could get there over the next (5 – 25 years) and make there visions/proposal/syntheses into a series of public products such as an exhibit (ideally on the streets of Montreal), lecture series, a book, and website. I think they could build upon lots of work in synthesis and communication done by Massive Change, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, WorldChanging, and many others, to develop practical proposals for McGill and Montreal.

It is also interesting to think about what type of resilience oriented course with a larger international vision could be developed as a Resilience Alliance project. In either case, there are many details of time, money, and credit to work. But I think, there is a lot of potential for learning and innovation in real world, positive, synthetic courses.

Some other articles on Bruce Mau and Massive Change:
From architecture/design magazine MetropolisMag.comAt the Parsons Table with Bruce Mau, and from the business magazine Fast Company, Making a Map to a New World.

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