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Winnipeg Future: Architecture students work on a collaborative map-collage of Winnipeg.

A city poem for the heart of the continent

February 5, 2014 — 

Assistant professor of architecture Lisa Landrum has given some thought to the state of the city. Her collaborative work with Ted Landrum, called “Winnipeg: A Place In and Out of Bounds,” is currently on display — along with related work by her students — in the Border Warehouse at the 2013 Urbanism/Architecture Bi-City Biennale (UABB), which opened in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, China on December 6, 2013 and runs through February 28, 2014.  Landrum was asked to contribute to the Biennale, which this year has as its theme the urban border.


Architecture prof Lisa Landrum (far right) and her students at the Border Warehouse in Shenzhen.

The Border Warehouse is one of two venues that showcases myriad urbanism and architectural displays from around the globe. The other venue, the Value Factory (a former float glass factory), notes Landrum, was reserved for larger scale installations and presentations, many by major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Landrum’s “interpretive case study” entry features three collages exploring the border conditions of Winnipeg — the first, a geological/topographical map that illustrates the prehistory conditions of the area; the second, a “city poem,”  a collage of expressive poetic texts by Ted Landrum and Duncan Mercredi representing different areas of the city; and the third, a collage that represents the future, and features her students recreating the city as a collaborative work in progress. Students in Landrum’s architecture design studio contributed content to the project, including Hilary Cohen and Ting Wu.

Through its three colleges — past, present and future — the  interpretive case study represents different faces and factors that shape and comprise a city. Students in her design studio, Landrum says, were asked to look at the urban conditions of Winnipeg. Hilary Cohen looked at prehistory factors such as the impact of the glacial retreat with the rich soil deposits and how Winnipeg arose under these conditions, a study that was incorporated into Landrum’s project. The map also indicates both First Nation and colonial parties that came together to make Winnipeg a shared city.


Winnipeg’s present is represented as a “city crafted with words,” says Landrum.


Winnipeg’s present is represented as a “city crafted with words,” says Landrum. “Some of the words speak to conditions of strife — but also to longing and desire. It gives an image of the city as a place shaped by words.”

Winnipeg’s future is configured as a group of U of M students “working on the city,” she explains. The first project in the design studio was to work on a collective map of Winnipeg. “All of the students were drawing and collaging on one map simultaneously,” she says. “We took overhead images as they were working.”

Finalists in the International Student Video and Poster Competition, which also takes place as part of the Biennale, are also on display in the Border Warehouse. Students Sarah Stasiuk (collage), Liane Lanzar (clip animation film) and Yi Dazhong (video) were all finalists; winners of the competition will be announced at the close of the Biennale.

Scroll down for statements from the contributors, along with images and excerpts from the projects.


Liane Lanzar, Heart of the Continent (video)

Once known as ‘The Heart of the Continent,’ Winnipeg played an important role as the gateway to Western Canada. However, new transportation methods intended to connect Winnipeg to the continent have also created boundaries. This clip animation film explores these connections and boundaries by layering traces of Winnipeg’s social events and ever-changing urban fabric.


Yi Dazhong, Keep the Street Empty for Me (video)
People have around them a personal “vessel” of space, which both offers and awaits interaction. This video explores that “vessel” when people are in their most vulnerable position: sleep. The video aims to represent an invisible boundary around people as they sleep in the public street, thus exploring the boundaries between private and public space, and between sleep and dream.

A still from architecture student Yi Dazhong's video, 'Keep the Street Empty for Me,' which explore the boundaries of sleep and dream in the city.

A still from architecture student Yi Dazhong’s video, ‘Keep the Street Empty for Me,’ which explores the boundaries of sleep and dream in the city.


Sarah Stasiuk, Meandering Red (poster)
This poster investigates the boundary conditions within a slice of Winnipeg, revealing some of the relationships that exist between the natural and built environments. By collaging their unique textures, the analysis portrays the rich diversity of habitation found along the city’s meandering Red River.


Sarah Stasiuk, Meandering Red.



Lisa Landrum + Ted Landrum, Winnipeg: A Place In and Out of Bounds (An interpretive case study of Winnipeg’s Past, Present and Future)

Winnipeg Past: Portions of this image are by Hillary Cohen. The animal figures are signatures representing the Aboriginal chiefs who signed, in 1817, the Selkirk treaty designating land around the “Forks” of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers for trade.

Hillary Cohen, Winnipeg Past (graphic contribution to City Case Study by Lisa Landrum)
Manitoba has a history of naturally shifting material boundaries dating back to the ice age. Using wax mixed with pigments made from Manitoba soils, as in the ancient technique of encaustics, this panel mimics that long history by scraping materials over a wood surface while tracing the advancements and retreats of glacial Lake Agassiz.



Winnipeg Past collage.


Winnipeg Present: All black text for this “city poem” is by Ted Landrum. The more colorful text (in green and brown) is Duncan Mercredi, as excerpted from Manitowapow (Winnipeg: Portage & Main Press, 2011).

“Manitowapow” is a Cree word meaning “Great Spirit of the Sacred Waters.”  Portions of these texts have been translated into Mandarin by Ting Wu.



Winnipeg Present “city poem” collage.



Winnipeg Future.

Winnipeg Future: Pictured in the collective act of remaking Winnipeg are eleven students from Lisa Landrum’s architectural design studio at the University of Manitoba: Ashkan Ataee, Hillary Cohen, Steven Hung, Liane Lanzar, Sarah Stasiuk, Steven Holdack, Marienette Aguirre, Veronika Angelatos, Kelsey McMahon, Ting Wu, Dazhong Yi.

“City Poem” text

by Winnipeg poets Ted Landrum and Duncan Mercredi

(This is the text used to create the collage map of Winnipeg’s Present)

City Core 
“Vital cities have ever increasing kinds and rates of traffic pulsing through intertwining sites of resilience, heterogeneity and exchange.  Sometimes we manage to go along with this Heraclitean traffic, finding ourselves cooperatively empowered (both individually and socially) by its ostensibly progressive yet inherently turbulent and ambiguous forces. Just as often, we must stand off at a distance, until, merging cautiously, we may find our place amid the contending, creative rhythms of ever-developing urban flux.  Eventually, one wakens to another city more ethically and culturally troubling than it is technically and aesthetically sophisticated. Then, some part of us must go (however gladly or gruffly) against its homogenizing thrust.”
— Ted Landrum (excerpts from text published in On Site review #30, Winter 2013)


City Core
What about the sidewalk café says
“morning noon and night”
says even the sidewalk says write on
write the city free with chalk?
Go for a walk! while you we talk
this is not the – Yes it is
but this is not the place to balk
pick it up the pencil pick it up
the pen let the ink run run
and do not (or do) stop
till the silence
is a friendly one
and the parking meters
have all been changed
into fruit trees
carved by lovers
or dog lovers
or you know utopians
utopians with dictionaries
and hutzpah.
—Ted Landrum (excerpts from the poem “WORDpark” in On Site review #30, Winter 2013).


Perimeter Highway
“we hear see smell feel taste the city but the place around before beneath within the city it too we touch and dream and some do remember many times a year to leave the city together or alone and to return knowing that it is not the only city but that it is the city in the middle of the continent where paths have been crossed and continue crossing and the entire world meets itself as an aggregation of difference bound by similarities not expressible in words…”
—Ted Landrum, unpublished (2013).


“sleep eat watch television go online laundry video games sports all about keeping kids suburbia busy planning retirement avoiding the neighbors keeping everyone distracted from the ruses putting wages into capitalized interest into future withdrawals and tax avoidance stratagems into tuition insurance fees cars gas clothes shopping suburbia shopping packing suburbia lunches suburbia dishes suburbia shopping parking looking for suburbia parking suburbia gardening composting suburbia dog walking rises mode of transcendence cats too bird watching even squirrels can calm suburban mind heart hides diverts absurd crush of modern life nuts while sun rising too goes unseen as all stars have long been obliterated by humanity’s superfluous exuberance mechanical brilliance although suburbia proliferates gobbling up the land there are myriad windows east facing north facing south and west and these and other factors compel solar vision obstruction not pointing to trees clouds but heavy blinds curtains walls tinted windows stiff necks reluctant to inquire about each allegorizing apathy if not antipathy for consequences tied to others not furthering the private dream of peace space control cushioning time out too from interference conflict disagreement stress it is incipient the cause of suburban living as old as ascendancy are the houses arrayed proportional to the difference between individuals hardly unique in any way especially that is not mere presumption assumption resumption…”
—Ted Landrum, unpublished (2013).


Red and Assiniboine Rivers (text in brown)
“…the river becoming silent, so silent but we were so busy riding the wave, chasing a new dream, not knowing its nature or the pitfalls that lay ahead, we never saw that our lives were changing … through all this, we never realized that the river’s voice had been silenced… we no longer recognized the lake and the river… once full of life… it seemed menacing, we could feel the anger just below its surface… When I was a child, the voices of the village would echo from house to house and across the river, the laughter would last well past sundown, and if you listened hard enough you could hear the whispers of the old ones, saying this is the way it should be, but now it seems we need to hear these stories more than ever, before they go the way of the river and the lake, fading.”
—Duncan Mercredi, excerpts from “Wachea” in Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water (Winnipeg, 2011).


Region (text in green)
“Tansi, aneen, boozoo, sago, words of greeting or are they, strange coming from the same voice, whispered across the land…”   “…tansi, how are you, aneen, how are things, boozoo, good day, sago, a greeting of well-being coming from the eastern door,”   “and travelled along the rivers and the trails now covered in gravel and asphalt, making its home on the flatlands of the prairies,”   “riding the waves of the lake, mingling with all those other greetings of well-being and safe travels,”   “old words, older than the land, greetings carried from the stars, mixed in with other words and phrases”   “I don’t know, yet I have heard whispered on the streets and paths of today and yesterday,”   “slipping in and out of places like the back alleys of main street, carried into the north end and now some are even found in the suburbs,”   “old words, planting their seeds into new memories. Unable to shake free of these words, older than this land…”   “…the voice is but a whisper… tansi, aneen, boozoo, sago, ah but much stronger now than yesterday…”   “…it means life these words, tansi, aneen, boozoo, sago.”
—Duncan Mercredi, excerpts from “Wachea” in Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water (Winnipeg, 2011).



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