I’ve just had the pleasure of participating in Bellastock Québec’s ephemeral architecture festival over the weekend. Bellastock was originally founded in France when a few architecture students decided to create a platform for experimental architecture because they felt it was lacking from their curriculum. In the original form of the festival, participants migrated to an empty field in which they built an ephemeral village out of recycled materials and lived in it for several days. Last year’s edition was similar, but for 2015, Bellastock Quebec tried something different.
The festival took place in Montreal's Pointe-St-Charles neighbourhood on Island street, which is a major entry point for cyclists and pedestrians entering the neighbourhood from the Lachine canal. Despite this traffic, Island street remains somewhat underwhelming and barren. Bellastock Québec’s mission was thus to engage with local community members and show the potential of a revitalized Island street by filling it with ephemeral structures that ranged from functional to decorative. And the kicker: if participants created something useful and were deemed acceptable by the mayor of the neighbourhood, they would remain even after the festival. Perhaps a not-so-ephemeral architecture festival after all. And so dozens of architects, urban planners, landscape designers, and like-minded DIY people (including me) showed up and camped together in a large field for 3 days.
Even this Bixi stand was reappropriated to become our shower for our stay. Hours of building with recycled materials led to creative installations that ranged from purely decorative art, to playful interactive games, to functional structures.
I much preferred the motivation behind this year’s festival. It attempts to create something useful for a community, rather than just focusing on building stuff and partying. There are still some refinements to be made to better integrate the community members in the festival, but despite this, what the Bellastock Québec team managed to accomplish in just their second year was impressive and I hope to come back for next year’s 2016 edition!