Collaborative Sumi Ink Club illustration by HCMA team

How do artists interface with public spaces, architecture and people?

We wanted to find out, so we founded the HCMA Artist in Residence (AIR) program. Since 2014, we've invited artists to challenge us, spark our curiosity and help us ask better questions about the world around us.

  • Katherine Soucie

    Cast ON, Cast OFF

  • Ola Volo

  • Heather Myers

    Solid Liquid Ether

  • Michael Rozen + Scott Sueme


  • Krista Jahnke

    A Stable World That Will Last Forever

  • Julien Thomas

    The Faraday Café

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Katherine Soucie

Cast ON, Cast OFF


“Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.” (or knit)

-Walter Benjamin

Cast ON, Cast OFF is an in-progress installation informed by the structural application of knitting, the creative use/reuse of pre-consumer waste hosiery (cast offs from textile manufacturing process) and the valuable role that textiles serves each and every day in our environment.

Artist Statement

Knitting is a method of textile construction that pre dates weaving and is composed of one continuous length of yarn or string. It is a transformative act that led me to embark upon a journey in 2002 that began as research into transforming knitted pre-consumer waste textiles, specifically waste hosiery (aka pantyhose) into new textiles for clothing.

As a material, hosiery embodies a unique construction, history and end use. However, since 1938, it has been manufactured as a petroleum by-product and designed to be disposable which it is not. The inherent design flaws of this material (running, pilling) in connection with its end use/life cycle continues to inspire and influence my ongoing research. It invites new discoveries with tools (obsolete and new technology) and allows me to expand upon form, structure and application in ways I never imagined. New pathways have come to establish itself into my creative process which inevitably grants me with the honour to act as an interpreter of this material by being able to tell its story.

AIR Discoveries

Cast ON, Cast OFF is a distillation of what I experienced as part of my residency at HCMA Architecture + Design.  The various conversations, travels (US + Western Australia), failure (trial and error) I experienced led me down a new pathway into I approach the use/reuse of waste materials I physically produce in the studio and how this can be transformed into a yarn and applied to the knitting process using craft applications to create 3D forms and environments. I look forward to seeing the finished installation in HCMA’s Vancouver studio.

Community Impact

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Ola Volo


I aim to make my work as accessible as possible – it is about inclusion and sharing some type of memory or emotion. By connecting, sharing and reminiscing with a community about its unique history and culture, I hope to create something that people can relate to and see themselves in.

Ola is a Canadian illustrator from Kazakhstan with a distinctive style drawn from history, multiculturalism and folklore. Her month-long residency will focus on collecting stories in our studio, first during a Sumi Ink Club public drawing event, and then by storytelling and visits with our team. Her residency will culminate in a custom mural painted directly onto our Vancouver studio's TILT gallery walls. Watch this space for project updates.


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Heather Myers

Solid Liquid Ether


Through the creation of a dance work, I hope to contextualize the space in a way that is meaningful to the community as well as to an architect. I am interested in integrating the quality of the building’s roof and other structures into my choreography and composition, drawing attention to the spaces that have particular potential for community interaction, and calling on qualities and issues associated with water for inspiration. Directing these concepts through the architecture of the space is the main line of the project.

The choreographed dance within the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre expresses the nature of water, the idea of community, social relevance, space usage and perception, and the question of how these considerations are connected.

Artist Statement

My name is Heather Myers and I am a Vancouver based choreographer working in a variety of contexts.

My HCMA residency and project delved into the intersection of dance, architecture and, ultimately, film through the creation of a site specific dance work/dance film inspired by The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.

I think that both myself and HCMA were interested in how the forms of architecture and dance could inform and enrich each other through the creative process and discussion. Additionally, community was a particular consideration for the very public space that we were working with and so I wanted to keep in mind the idea of re-contextualizing or enhancing the space and architectural ideas for the public that will be inhabiting the space.

The nature of the project immediately called to my interest in exploring unconventional formats of presenting dance work as well as collaborating with a variety of art forms. Particularly, the call for the work to specifically address architecture was an opportunity for me to approach my craft in an unusual way. The focus that I put on transcribing and interpreting architectural forms opened up a very particular but also bountiful source for movement inspiration which I can now apply to a variety of creative challenges in my work.

HCMA cultivates a very open and welcoming atmosphere for artists to work in close proximity to a form that they might not normally interact with. I feel that the opportunity for an artist to interact creatively with the spaces we inhabit as well as the designers of those spaces gives greater value and meaning to both practices.

Finished Piece

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Michael Rozen + Scott Sueme



How can we push the boundaries of our practice in this new space?

When the HCMA studio moved into its current location in the heart of Vancouver, we sought a memorable first installation for our new rotating lobby gallery.

By inviting the artists to create their piece directly onto our lobby walls with the knowledge that it would one day be painted over, we invited the creative process to take place directly inside our studio walls.


Artist Statement

Michael Rozen is a Vancouver born artist, coming from a graffiti background he now works predominately in various paint mediums on canvas and board. His work reflects experimentation in several genres including, abstract, expressionism, impressionism, among others. 

Scott Sueme is a Canadian artist raised in Vancouver, BC. Since attending Emily Carr in 2006, Sueme has been working as a graphic artist and painter.

Working with ‘Connections’ as a key concept, the design features a colourful set of interlocking and connecting shapes. The geometry is designed to lead the eye from one object to the next, illustrating their connection to each other and as a whole. With that as a focus, the shapes attribute this quality without a linear pattern, or repetition of a specific shape – they are meant to feel organic with a hand painted quality.

‘Connections’ walks the line between graffiti and modern art, featuring two areas of interest with texture cropped within large shapes. One represents a street and city space using weathering and graffiti painting techniques, the other represents a green space and features full foliage and leaves captured from trees around the Vancouver area. This piece pays a tribute to the landscape of Vancouver and our connection with nature as city dwellers.

AIR Discoveries

Following the success of ‘Surroundings’, Rozen and Sueme were invited by HCMA client Royal Bay Secondary School to contribute another painting inspired by the architecture. The mural, titled Foundation, is a terrific example of enhancing a built environment through the combination of art and design and was completed before the school opened in September 2015.

Design Process

Artists' Process

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Krista Jahnke

A Stable World That Will Last Forever


It is the designer who must attempt to re-evaluate his role in the nightmare he helped to conceive, to retread the historical process which inverted the hopes of the modern movement.

- Toraldo di Francia, Superstudio

A Stable World That Will Last Forever is a constructed portrait of Vancouver by Krista Jahnke, in collaboration with TILT| AIR, displayed at the Olympic Village Station from January to April 2015. The composition uses recognizable Vancouver landmarks organized into a new configuration, which allows the viewer to imagine our city within a new landscape and context.

Artist Statement

Krista Jahnke received her BFA in Photography from Emily Carr University in 2009 and a Bachelor of Architectural Studies from Ottawa’s Carleton University in 2007. Jahnke’s work has been exhibited internationally in galleries and public spaces. In 2009 Jahnke’s series Same Soup Different Flavour: 100 Pairs of Converse Shoes was part of a year-long exhibition at Vancouver’s Burrard SkyTrain Station and is now part of the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation Permanent Collection. Currently, Jahnke’s photography series Drive In is installed at Main Street SkyTrain Station until spring/summer 2015. Additionally, Jahnke’s architectural photography was incorporated into the 2012 documentary Coast Modern and was included in the group exhibition Photography and the West Coast Modern House at the Charles H. Scott Gallery.

The piece is inspired by the languages of propaganda and graphic art favoured by the Italian Superstudio from the 1960s. Rather than casually viewing architecture as a benevolent force, the members of Superstudio blamed it for having aggravated the world’s social and environmental problems, while being equally pessimistic about politics. The group’s once radical theories about architecture’s environmental impact, the potentially negative consequences of technology, and the inability of politics to untangle complex social problems are now considered to be core concerns by self-aware, contemporary architects and designers. The piece examines the relationship between environment, architecture and society in the modern city and addresses the complex role of their interconnectivity and dependency.


AIR Discoveries

By rearranging line, space and forms that communicate the power of architecture within the environment and how people interact with both, the piece invited viewers to envision Vancouver from a different perspective.

Community Impact

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Julien Thomas

The Faraday Café


In a space devoid of cell phone or data connections, will personal connections be formed instead?

HCMA's first Artist in Residence, Julien Thomas, set out to answer that question with HCMA and "The Faraday Café" – the only coffee shop in Vancouver designed to repel wireless signals.

Artist Statement

Julien Thomas is a social artist. He creates community gathering spaces, urban interventions and public installations. Originally from Vancouver, Julien now practices in Amsterdam where his work continues to challenge and engage people to interact with one another and form connections.

Before collaborating with HCMA, I was primarily active in public space. My practice involved identifying relevant local issues, conducting research on policies, and developing approaches to reconfigure the public domain. I’m always interested in generating discussion, relationship-building and working towards stronger policy awareness and a stronger social fabric.

With the help of HCMA, my practice was able to flex into a more private form that carried even greater opportunities for impact.



AIR Discoveries

A collaborative design process between Julien and HCMA yielded a pop up café completely enclosed in a mesh structure. The mesh shielded electromagnetic signals and created visual interest for the space and the project.

Located in the Chinatown Experiment at 434 Columbia Street, the Faraday Café was open to the public from July 2 to 16, 2014. To attract the public to experience this urban intervention, Julien served a rotation of artisanal coffees and hosted a variety of events including morning meditation workshops, afternoon DJ sets, and evening storytelling gatherings, all by donation.

So what happened?

People came. They talked. They drew. They wrote. Some people came to watch and see what other people did. The Globe and Mail sent a reporter and the story of the signal-blocking café made its way around the world, with news agencies calling HCMA and Julien to ask “what happened”.

Some of HCMA’s Discoveries

No one foresaw the interest this project would garner, or its potential for striking global connections. The project also sparked unforeseeable connections in our studio as it was being designed, and in the café between strangers who didn’t have devices to hide behind. Here are some observations from our team:

“Yes, the café definitely connected people. I think it was a combination of the disconnect from their phones and the setup, which was one long table with benches. People would talk with other people about how they found the place and why they were there. We noticed that the younger people definitely had more problems being disconnected from their phone than older people. We even observed some people going outside the cage/café for a ‘phone break’, as people would for a smoke break!”

The project also brought to light a previously hidden community of people with electromagnetic sensitivities.

Julien says, “The café was set up with the idea that it would attract people that wanted to truly connect. And some people came to explore that. But the café quickly started attracting A LOT of people that were very sensitive to electromagnetic fields, there’s a whole community out there and they were spreading the word through blogs. They ended up being the prime visitors.  A community none of us even knew existed, found the café and made it home. I think that is a pretty great story.”

Some of Julien’s Discoveries

“With “The Faraday Café ” I worked within the built environment, in a private domain. Interestingly this allowed me to focus on a topic with a much broader audience. It’s funny how working in private space can allow someone to go public in a much bigger way.

I’d also say this project enabled me to explore opportunities for combining creative practice with social entrepreneurship. The format of a café allowed people to place a simple economic value on the project. In current funding structures for Canadian public art, consumer exchange rarely comes into play. HCMA’s support of the Faraday Café gave me a basis for future experiments with this kind of work,” says Julien.

Community Impact

Interested in exploring the boundaries between Architecture and your creative field?

Pitch Us

Calling Curious Artists

At HCMA we are on a quest to explore what's possible. Our AIR program is just one of the ways we break from convention.

What do artists in residence do?

Artists are invited into HCMA to share ideas, bringing their perspectives and practice into our space, in turn bringing some of our team’s creativity into their own studios. We might collaborate where it makes sense, and we might just sit back in awe when that's the thing to do. Interaction and engagement are important to us – our goal is to learn – but we don't step on toes. Artists are entirely self-directed, and they manage their own projects.

Most residencies are about a two-month engagement that culminate in a show in the TILT gallery, or in some other public space. But outcome isn't everything. We're interested in the process and the investigation, and we put our money where our mouth is by supporting our artists with a stipend and materials budget.

What kind of art gets made?

Dance, theatre, installation, photography - the modality doesn't matter. Check out examples of our past residency projects above.

To be clear, this isn't a program to commission a public art work or to get artists to paint murals on our buildings. Murals can be great, and if you have a wicked idea for one, like Michael Rozen and Scott Sueme did, we'll jump on board. But this program isn't about artists making stuff for us.

We're interested in broadening the discourse between disciplines. AIR is meant to stimulate discussion and challenge preconceptions about the limits of architectural practice. We want to work with artists who look at relationships, connections, human interactions, human potential, social potential, social space. We are curious about the ways in which artistic investigation can help us tease out the issues and intricacies at the heart of social sustainability, and makes us better problem solvers and better citizens.

If you're asking questions that our team wants to explore, you'll have our attention. Successful AIR project pitches are those that relate in some fashion to the built environment and/or social issues faced by the communities that we serve.

How will my application be evaluated?

Projects that represent an opportunity for our team to be exposed to other interdisciplinary perspectives and creative practices that might challenge our assumptions and stir debate are preferred. Successful projects are also those that include collaboration opportunities that could potentially reveal lessons, insights or innovation we might be apply in our practice. We also look for pitches that demonstrate clear deliverables and careful thought toward the time, resources or funds required to be successful.

How are Artists in Residence supported?

Each artist residency is supported by HCMA with a $500 materials budget, as well as a $2,500 honorarium. Projects with larger budgets will be considered on a case by case basis. Artists also have access to the studio resources as well as our promotional support through social media, email and other communications and/or events.

What are the required deliverables?

Artists are asked to submit an artist’s statement, final written statement and to record the planning, production and exhibition in various media forms.

Interested? Pitch us.

We put out a call for artists three or four times a year but you can pitch us anytime.

If you can, come by the Vancouver office. Pop into the TILT gallery to see what's on. Ask to talk to the program coordinators. Not in Vancouver? Give us a call to talk through an idea. Hold off drafting a formal proposal until you've connected with us.

Wow us with what you want to investigate.

Contact our program coordinators Mark Busse, Annerieke van Hoek or Steve DiPasquale at 604.732.6620.