Cities For All


Bridging the Divide

Kristen Mei, Megan Asbil
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Located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, our project is specific to Tsuut’ina Nation. It addresses the relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities, while rethinking Western planning practices. 

The historic signing of Treaty 7 left traces of physical, emotional, and mental trauma, leading to broken relationships between Indignous and Non-Indigenous peoples. We’ve had the privilege of exploring and relearning planning as a practice in the context of Indigenous relationships. Through storytelling from Tsuut’ina Elders, we’ve grown in our understanding of Indigenous culture, history, and practices.  

Our design takes place on the western edge of Calgary, where the city borders Tsuut’ina reserve. It addresses issues set by Western planning practices and challenges the boundaries imposed on Indigenous communities; thus creating the Third Space. The Third Space establishes an environment where tradition and modernity meet; forming equal partnerships for mutually beneficial solutions between Tsuut’ina and Calgary. 

The new extension of Calgary’s Ring Road runs between these two communities. The City of Calgary has plans to expand this portion from 8 to 16 lanes. Currently, cities around the world are discouraging sprawl, taking part in freeway removal, addressing GHG emissions and climate change issues. We hope that Calgary can join these efforts; rethinking its plan for expansion. 

Currently, the Ring Road acts as a physical and social barrier between Tsuut’ina and Calgary. Our project vision, Bridging the Divide, focuses on bridging these divides between the two communities by emphasizing relationships and identity. The Third Space comes to fruition and fosters a sense of belonging while bridging cultural differences and creating opportunities of collaboration for future generations.

Building off of the existing Tsuut'ina Taza Development plans, we’ve designed a plaza that goes over the Ring Road which translates the concept of the Third Space into physical reality. The design assumes that the Ring Road will remain at 8 lanes and rethinks the use of the space reserved for the expansion. It serves as a point of mutual social connection, while bridging the physical barriers and addressing issues of climate change. The plaza design and programming were inspired by the medicine wheel taught to us by a Blackfoot Elder. The plaza is divided and represented by the stages of life and the four aspects of the medicine wheel: Love, Faith, Honesty, and Share. This design of a neutral third space between Tsuut’ina and Calgary serves as a place where both communities can come together.

landscape architecture, urban design