RED Talks, an exciting evening of conversation and ideas!

Last month marked the second year of RED Talks; an initiative bringing people together to talk about Real Estate Development in Vancouver. This year’s theme – “vivacity: colourful tomorrow” – addressed the ever-changing urban landscape of Vancouver and how we as planners, builders and residents can shape our city for the future. Four speakers presented on topics ranging from affordable housing and public space to walkability and bikeability, to the benefits of clutter-free living.

Hosted at the Playhouse Theatre, attendees enjoyed cocktails and live music as they mingled. Even before the presentations started, the event was alive with conversation, as guests tested the black light photo booth, doodled on the housing mural (inspired by adult colouring books), and took in Kohler’s amazing exhibit in the theatre’s salon.

The first speaker, Avi Friedman, an architect, professor, and the director of the affordable housing research group at McGill University shared his thoughts on housing in Vancouver. Known as Canada’s housing guru, Avi has received international recognition for his research and work in home design, community development and sustainability. As the real estate market in Vancouver continues to climb, city dwellers’ expectations of housing must change. Avi challenged us to approach affordable housing as an everyday issue and not just an election issue: Vancouver needs to come together to develop more affordable housing options.

Next up, Gehl Architects’ John Bela took the stage. As creator of Park(ing) Day – an initiative that transforms metered parking spots into temporary public parks – John’s innovation has already changed the landscape of downtown Vancouver streets. His company studies public spaces and how they can be places for engagement and community. He has worked to illuminate spaces in some major cities all over the world, including New York’s Time Square. John’s message was soft but passionate, as he noted that many changes didn’t happened overnight. Like in Copenhagen, the city’s change will be years in the making.

Friend and colleague of John’s, Eric Scharnhorst presented next. Creator of Walkscore – the tool that many of us know from checking out MLS listings – Eric highlighted the fact that Vancouver is one of the most walkable cities in North America. However, once you compare Vancouver’s walkability to Europe, Vancouver is very behind many European cities. He shared with the audience his experience as an architect and planner in Copenhagen. Today, Copenhagen is a biking (and walking) Mecca, with happy inhabitants and an exceptionally high walkscore!

The last speaker of the evening was celebrity designer and house flipper Jeff Lewis, from Bravo’s Flipping Out. As a house flipper, Jeff has lived in smaller spaces and enjoys the benefits of a more simplified life with less stuff. Whether large or small, Jeff encouraged the audience to make the best use of their space, by cleaning out the clutter from their homes or, as he put it, “clutter is for losers.”

RED Talks encouraged collaboration, through a diverse audience that included City officials from around the Lower Mainland, students and teachers from a variety of post-secondary institutions, architects and designers, as well as realtors and residents of Greater Vancouver. Throughout the event, there were many opportunities for connection and those attending the event were invited to collaborate by sharing their ideas.

As the Presenting Partner, Wesgroup encourages conversation and learning from the experiences of other world-class cities. RED Talks sponsors this year also included Kohler, EMCO the Ensuite, Faskin Martineau, Advanced Parking, BFL Canada, Brook Pooni Associates Inc., TD Canada, Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc., BMO Bank of Montreal, IBI Group, InterCAD, Nemetz, Dialog, Yardi, Scotiabank and Form Retail Advisors.

To read more about RED Talks, check out the website here.

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