At Home in the North’s Susane Havelka has released her first book: “Blueprint for a Hack: Leveraging informal building practices”, coauthored with Dave Harlander and Vikram Bhatt and published by Actar Publishers.
Over five days, some 60 residents of a northern village teamed with designers from southern Quebec to conceive and build an outdoor community pavilion that activates a central recreational area. “Blueprint for a Hack” aims to reimagine community spaces. Faced with extreme housing shortages, physical isolation, and a challenging climate, outdoor public spaces in northern communities remain largely undesigned and underused. These ‘in-between’ spaces are strewn with stuff: plywood crates, tires, sea-cans, palettes, diesel fuel drums, etc.
Most housing and civic buildings in the communities emerge from and stand like physical markers of Euro-Canadian values. The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada has begun a discourse on design in northern Canadian communities, but discussions continue to dwell on housing and civic buildings. A strong need exists to open conversations about design and the public realm in northern villages, which this project tries to address, creating a unique experience in which northern and southern groups could apply a “hacking mindset” to reimagine community spaces. “Hacks” respond to institutionalized inadequacy and are found in every culture. They have shown that the reuse and recycling of discarded materials and existing technologies can radically transform everyday life. Hence, hacking is relevant to designing in northern villages where the DIY up-cycling culture is widely practiced. The book celebrates this innovative achievement and showcases its relevance to open shared conversations about the built environment and the need to build on local capabilities, reduce waste and rethink consumption patterns.