Every idea has its place

Local design competition gives idealistic Winnipeggers ‘a seat at the table’

Photo provided by 5468796 Architecture.

On Thursday Aug. 27, local architecture and design firm 5468796 Architecture opened public registration for their new non-profit competition, Chair Your Idea.

The competition is designed to generate both ideas and funds from the community. To do so, Chair Your Idea challenges Winnipeggers to submit an idea of no more than 140 characters in length along with a $25 registration fee and one white chair to commemorate the addition of their idea. The chair must have the applicant’s idea, registration number and www.chairyouridea.ca written on it, and will be looked after by one of many participating local businesses. The idea itself can be absolutely anything, as long as it fits the required length and is made with the intention to improve Winnipeg.

5468796 Architecture hopes to raise approximately $30,000 and receive over 1000 submissions. The competition will run between Aug. 27 and Sept. 17. After that point, all entries will be judged by a “high-calibre jury,” with the funds raised going towards financing the winning idea.

Caroline Inglis, a partner at 5468796 Architecture, told the Manitoban that Chair Your Idea was conceived as an extension of Table for 1200 a pop-up dining event that took place in May of last year and featured a 1200-foot long dining table across the Esplanade Riel with Inglis joking that there are “1200 white chairs lying around somewhere, so let’s bring ‘em out and do another event.”

She added in earnest that the event was to be one that “really gets people talking about this city, and what we can do for it.”

In order to get the ball rolling, 5468796 Architecture opened the competition to the public by simultaneously revealing 17 ideas put forth by an assortment of prominent local community members. With one glance at the list of names, one sees a veritable “who’s-who” of Winnipeg with ideas from Mayor Brian Bowman, morning radio DJ Ace Burpee, improv comedian Stephen Sim, and many more. Further, each “celebrity chair” is specially designed by a local architect or designer, and will be prominently displayed around the city during the competition, while being auctioned off online.

“The intention was just to get as many Winnipeggers involved as possible, so we were looking for people who were involved in different aspects of the community and of the city to really help rally everyone in Winnipeg together for this event,” Inglis told the Manitoban.

According to Inglis, the white chairs carry a somewhat symbolic significance for the event as well.

“What it means is to take your seat at the table. If there’s an idea, designers, planners, architects, and city officials are the ones who make the decision. They happen at a place that’s removed from the public, so it’s an invitation to take a seat at that table and to share their ideas.”

Inglis stated that after the competition, the focus of Chair Your Idea will make the logical shift to implementing and constructing the winning idea, stating the possibility of the reoccurrence of the event hinges on its success in this, its inaugural year and if “Winnipeggers find this is a good outlet for sharing their ideas.”

Inglis closed by encouraging all Winnipeggers to participate, stating that 5468796 Architecture has “tried to make it really easy, so that anyone can share any idea, all the ideas will be heard, and we want to put them all together in a public location and make an idea bank.”

“City council has promised to read each and every one of them. So if you have something to say, please share it. We’d love to hear it.”

Got an idea to improve Winnipeg’s urban design and planning? Visit www.chairyouridea.ca to read all the rules and regulations and register for the competition.