Reflecting on ComFORT

ComFORT is over and we have had a few weeks to reflect. The event was nothing like what we expected, but it was everything we hoped for. Our forts looked different than we had imagined, the amount of furniture we were able to move around was much less than we had hoped for, although we feel the result was still charmingly quirky and cozy. Setting up the fort for the first time was a bit of an architectural exercise for us and it took a while to figure out exactly how to use our materials to their highest potential. After a couple attempts we quickly began to understand the materials intricacies and how they affected the lighting and space.

We were pleasantly overwhelmed with support and positive feedback from co-workers, pedestrians, businesses and media alike! If this taught me anything, it is that a simple idea can go a long way with little means. The largest force of change is definitely time, effort, and enthusiasm. At some point we realized that if one or two people get excited about something, it is fairly easy to get others excited too. Relating this to positive change in our city, a few loving citizens with unwavering faith in positive growth for Edmonton, influences many citizens to reassess their views. The more loving citizens a city has, the more amazing a city can become.

Another realization that we had is that it doesn’t take very much physical structure to create a place of pause or interaction for pedestrian traffic. We didn’t find it necessary to be technical about ensuring that the installations had four walls and a roof; rather we looked to design spaces that would hopefully bring people together and create a place of pause for the community, and this is exactly what happened. Edmontonians have proven themselves to be curious, open, friendly, people. Many individuals stopped to ask us what we’re doing or just stopped to relax, no explanation needed for why there is a couch in the middle of downtown! There was many encounters where a few strangers would all be sitting inside the fort together and began playing games or talking. And many residents spontaneously shared their views of the City. This is the conversation we were hoping to start! This is personal interaction and emotional connection that we crave from our cities.

Each day of the event the people taking part had completely unique reactions to our project. This speaks to the distinctive demographic and personality of smaller pockets in the Downtown Community. We hope that Edmontonians become interested in the strengths of each ‘pocket’ of downtown and use these as a springboard for making each area magical for its own unique people and places.

Something about this project garnered interest with ease from the community at large (including Kitchener Park). We’d love to see our friendly, creative citizens come up with some of their own spontaneous acts of love for their city to surprise and gratify this place we call home.

– Tara McCashin, Architecture Student