Some Well Designed 2015 Memories

Some of you are not fond of year-end reviews or 10-best listicles. This blog is really not one of those. All I did was skim through my photos from last year and realize there were some little developments around Halifax that I was pleased to recall. Common elements of the projects were good design (from my point of view) and bursts of positive energy.

The seating and interactive wall on Barrington was probably installed in late 2014 but I didn’t experience it until last spring.  It is great in so many ways: the result of public consultation; built of appropriate materials; a playful, thoughtful design.

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A larger-scale project that demonstrated how clever we can be was the argyle sock pattern painted on Argyle Street. What a transformation! I couldn’t believe what a difference high quality paint and some potted plants could make to a summer night when the terraces were throbbing .

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Again the calibre of the design and the care of the execution made the difference. Look at how beautifully the argyle design was mortised around the existing traffic arrow. That happens when you hire artists to paint your street.

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And do you remember that the grown up media only wanted to report an untrue rumour that the paint was washing off?  We all know there is no news in the summer so for two months the media should just stick to lost cat stories. We’ll all be better off.

Another good news and good design story was the opening of the Stillwell Beer Garden on the Waterfront, an experiment that felt successful the couple of times we visited.  Also remember the selection process for Stillwell caused some controversy, but from the outside it felt all good. If entrepreneurial boldness means tasty beer in an attractive setting then bring it on.


A small scale residential development we followed with interest were three microlofts built  behind two existing houses on Hunter Street (just down the street from the Olympic Gardens). The leader of this project is our friend Kerry Lynch (who grew up downstairs from us).  This type of well designed densification would fit well in many of our neighbourhoods.  At some point Kerry may want to tell what it felt like getting the project built (spoiler: not always smooth sailing).

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The blooming of downtown Dartmouth is not news but it is important to go over and experience it on the ground.  Last spring we ate lunch at the always amazing Canteen and then sampled Portland Street. In the Dart Gallery I admired the painted floor border.

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Out on the street this architect’s sign attracted our attention.


Remember, Dartmouth: you have everything you need to feel good about yourself.

We always enjoy the Open City/City Harvest events.  For Open City, Steve-O-Reno’s (where we regularly eat a Saturday morning Egg-O-Reno) put on a little exhibition of artwork created by the staff who make the coffee and cook the eggs. It was happy and sad to see all their wonderful creations. There is so much creativity in this city.

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I wish NSCAD well as they work on the next stage of their evolution. All the hollowed-out downtowns in the hemisphere would be doing everything they could to encourage a creative institution like NSCAD to stay close to the city core. Here is a detail of a huge ceramic piece by Laura Jean Forrester we saw at the Anna Leonowens Gallery.

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Below is a detail from a long mural that surrounds a skate park in Spryfield. I hope there are all sorts of other great artwork out in the suburbs. You should tell me about them.

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In our own neighbourhood we noticed recently that there were new urban art pieces in Connaught Battery Park. Gifts of the artists.

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Before Christmas I was in Ratinaud’s new location on Gottingen for the first time. It was another reminder that our urban life is most enriched by many small and beautiful interventions .

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I was also reminded that a brave attempt to bring food security to the Gottingen Street area had closed this year.

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So what attractive developments will happen in 2016?  Some of the big downtown projects will be nearing completion.  I hope they make me as glad as that painted street did.


About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.