How can artists collaborate with other creative disciplines?

At HCMA we’re on a quest to explore what’s possible—for architecture, for design, for art, for society, and for all points in between.

Our Artist in Residence (AIR) program is one of our experimental forays that arranges a new dialogue between disciplines: what happens when artists expose us to different forms of creativity, while exposed to our world of architecture and design?

In the best instances, the project grows in previously unforeseen ways and we all come to see things a little differently than we would otherwise.

Scroll down to see some of the highlights, and get to know our artist alumni.

  • Travis Skinner

  • Annabelle Choi

    Cravings: Food for Thought

  • Julia Taffe (Aeriosa)

  • Roxanne Nesbitt

  • Alex Beim

  • Ola Volo

    Urban Tales

  • Katherine Soucie

    Cast ON, Cast OFF

  • 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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Travis Skinner


Travis Skinner is a metal and wood artist with a keen interest in architecturally related sculpture.

A lifelong student of art, history, and philosophy, his artwork invokes all three subjects to connect with a folkloric knowledge of previous generations.

Using only a few hand tools, Travis’ residency will focus on the process of taking a log and transforming it into a finished sculpture. No hardware stores, no middle men. Just his hands, axes, and a tree.

During his first workshop, Travis introduced the idea that a beautiful process will produce beautiful results. He challenged us to think about how that applies to our own creative processes within the office.

Artist Statement

The concept of social justice evokes the balance of resources for a healthy and hearty society. I believe craft, and the general act of creation, is a stimulus toward finding the true meaning of beauty. Through a connection with each media, we gain a relationship that can guide a process of design that accentuates the virtues of the media.

The bowl represents a vessel for resource allocation. It’s an ancient human form that has a myriad of manifestations over time, representative of the cultural identity that shaped them. It’s through connecting with the processes of these ancient cultures that we can gain new perspectives on resource allocation to use materials in the most prudent and beautiful ways.

My collaboration with HCMA allowed for a creative relationship that conceptually directed the project. The doorway carved into the inner sphere of the bowl is representative of a pathway for communication and connection with which that which fulfils us.

Though fulfilment is always changing, a community of people can help each other reach for social justice in the activities of our daily lives, and the lives of those around us.

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Annabelle Choi

Cravings: Food for Thought


Annabelle Choi is a chef, teacher, and facilitator, interested in food's ability to cross boundaries and connect people from all walks of life.

Throughout her career, Annabelle has collaborated with creatives, including design firms Firebelly Design and Here There Studio, publications such as Kinfolk Magazine, and the charity ArtStarts. She also teaches workshops on sourdough and fermenting through her eponymous studio.

For her residency at HCMA, Annabelle is exploring how space can change our experiences of food, as well as how our cultural narratives can dictate our understanding of one another. The goal is to better understand how we engage and connect with our neighbours - as well as nature - through our senses and shared stories around food.

The project involves workshops on the techniques and science behind fermentation, spices, cravings and nostalgia, and the impact of our gut on our mental health. With food and community as a means for exploration, Annabelle will be creating challenging, sensory-specific experiences that question our understanding of society and space.

Artist Statement

My residency started with the intention of creating deliciously challenging, sensory-specific, and curiosity-invoking experiences that would question our attachments to food.

Through workshops with HCMA staff, we explored how food forms part of our identity, and how it relates to creative practice. But, what emerged was something far more accessible and fundamental.

Tapping into childhood memories — and moments of discovery or hardship — we explored how specific foods and environments triggered different emotions. Through this, I discovered an ever-evolving dictionary of food memories that we all carry, like nostalgia, family, loss, and connection — a collection of experiences formed over a lifetime of using our senses to determine our perception of the world.

Through our own distinct ways of eating, whether by habit or ritual, we either add to our food memory dictionary, evolving and challenging it, or become rooted in our ways. By reflecting on these experiences together, we can better understand issues like addiction, cultural expression, and food security.

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Julia Taffe (Aeriosa)

  • Residency Period

    January 2018 - December 2018
  • Location


  • Follow Artist

Julia Taffe combines art, environment, and adventure to create unexpected aerial dance experiences. As a choreographer and the Artistic Director of Aeriosa Dance Society, Julia creates performances that meld art, innovation and thoughtful risk management to shift perspectives of natural and built landscapes.

The Aeriosa team dances in public space, exploring urban settings and existing ecosystems with curiosity, care and respect; transforming neighbourhoods into theatres, and exploring wild environments as dramatic stages for live dance.

Julia has choreographed over 25 works on location including Stawamus Chief Mountain in Squamish BC, Taipei City Hall, Cirque du Soleil Headquarters, Vancouver Library Square, Banff Centre, Scotiabank Dance Centre and Toronto’s 58-storey L Tower.

During her year-long residency, Julia explored how to activate various unloved and underused sites in Vancouver. Together, we used dance to challenge what's possible for architecture—identifying both natural and urban spaces for performances which could be used for the Vancouver's first International Dance Summit.

Julia's residency culminated in a brochure design project with our architectural and communications design teams. Read the case study, or check out the Instagram story.

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Roxanne Nesbitt


Roxanne Nesbitt is a designer, musician and sound artist based in Vancouver, Canada. She is interested in the convergence of sound, design, and motion.

As an artist, Roxanne has worked with choreographers, drummers, architects, designers and other creatives. These collaborations explore everything from the design of large-scale spatial instruments to original percussion instruments that facilitate an unorthodox vocabulary of movement. With a Masters of Architecture from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Alberta, Roxanne has the potential to spark our curiosity and influence our practice in new and unique ways.

During her residency at HCMA, Roxanne refined one of her acoustic pieces for public installation. Titled 'Minor 6th', the piece applies principles from musical instrument design to architectural interventions to make music-like sounds from the pedestrian step. A version of 'Minor 6th' has been shown at GlogauAIR in Berlin but this will be the first time it has been shared with the public.

Through collaboration with our staff, Roxanne tested the piece (currently in our studio) and hopes to find an appropriate location for its public installation. Collectively we explored the intersection between music and architecture, asking questions about the tonality of everyday materials and seeing how the sounds of everyday objects, spaces and bodies shape our experience.

Minor 6th was unveiled at our Vancouver studio in early October 2018, during the event we were lucky enough to see contemporary dancer Rianne Svelnis perform on the piece. If you would like to visit Roxanne's work please get in touch with us at

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Alex Beim


Alex Beim is the founder and Creative Director of Tangible Interaction, a Vancouver-based studio that creates sensory installations where community participation is key.

Tangible Interaction delivers graphic, industrial and audio design as well as programming, electronics engineering and production. While their medium may be different, the work of Alex and his team aligns with HCMA’s ambitions—to engage the community through shared experiences.

Their past work includes branded interactive experiences for companies across the world and collaborations with Blue Man Group, Arcade Fire, Green Day, Coldplay and Chemical Brothers. They also create public artworks such as CODE Live (2010 Winter Olympic Games), City of Turin, the Vancouver Aquarium, Siggraph, Cine Kid and Illuminate Yaletown, to name a few.

Alex’s final residency piece, titled Jax, generates an imaginative engagement not seen in most urban installations. Jax is a collection of two-metre high, inflatable, complex geometric shapes which can be illuminated from within. The Jax shape was the result of weeks of dialogue, collaboration, and a creative workshop with HCMA staff. The shape was originally inspired by Dolos (and the related Kolos), which are large, concrete, interlocking structures that protect coastal seawalls, breakwaters, and harbours from the erosive force of ocean waves. The installation name comes from the final shape’s similarity to “Jacks”, a game that has been played in varying forms for generations.

In contrast to the environments in which they are discovered, Jax can turn any public space into a vibrant, active play zone. We hope that passersby will experience a temporary disarmament when they are put in touch with the delight of discovery and given the opportunity to collaborate with strangers. Like their progenitors, Jax also offer an element of protection from the erosive forces of modern urban life to those who engage.

Like our More Awesome Now laneway transformations Alley-Oop and Ackery's Alley, Jax propose an open-ended game, an urban improvisation poised to be as surprising to those who choose to play as it will be to those who choose to watch, turning all into participants within this urban-scale theatre of sorts. What do these forms look like all bunched up against the wall? What happens if we distribute them out over this entire area? What if they are bunched together in a nest? A time-lapse camera will capture the process, and might even yield some intelligence about how people congregate in the urban commons, which conditions host the greatest intensities, which the least.

Follow Tangible Interaction and HCMA to keep up to date with our progress. We’ll let you know when and where you can find Jax when production is complete.

Images by HCMA Architecture + Design, Jared Korb and Mark Teasdale.

Design Process

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Ola Volo

Urban Tales


"It was a pleasure to do an art residency for TILT Curiosity Labs at HCMA this April. I've had an incredible insight on the world of architecture and the beautiful people behind the craft"

Artist Statement

Ola Volo, is a Canadian illustrator from Kazakhstan with a distinctive style drawn from history, multiculturalism and folklore.

“My piece, titled ‘Urban Tales’, is filled with the different things I learned and stories I heard during my residency. Throughout this experience, I started to look at buildings differently; they became characters with personalities to me and so I illustrated them this way.

I wanted to represent and celebrate both the female and male perspective because HCMA has an almost equal gender split. Other concepts that influenced my work were the notion of designing buildings for a future that is unknown, my realization that buildings exist because of the people that inhabit them, and the reality that nature and the elements also have an influence on a building’s design.

I originally intended for the piece to be architectural, strict and typographic but as my concept developed it became more fluid. There is a lot of storytelling in architecture and I wanted to capture the organic way people move around buildings. My biggest takeaway from the residency has been the development of my work in a 3D architectural space. The piece gradually expanded across the studio walls, becoming an installation piece and much more than a 2D mural. I love the way it wraps around the TILT Gallery, covering every side and angle, pulling the viewer deeper into the story.”

Community Impact

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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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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 a collaborative exchange that might expand creative practices?

Pitch Us

Curious Artists: Empty City

This year's theme is Empty City and we’re looking for wildly courageous artists who are asking provocative questions to explore new territories with us—and with their medium.

Successful project pitches are those that offer a compelling response to the theme, and have the potential to teach us something new.

As part of our legacy of learning, we will document the outcomes of this project and share what we learn with our communities and the public.


We have three offices—one each in Victoria, Vancouver, and Edmonton. You must reside in the corresponding city to submit an application for residency.

  • Residency 1 will be held in Victoria, and will run ten weeks, from January to March, 2021.
  • Residency 2 will be held in Vancouver, and will run ten weeks, from April to June, 2021.
  • Residency 3 will be held in Edmonton, and will run ten weeks, from July to September, 2021.

Please indicate in your application which single residency you wish to apply for.


A board of Residency Committee Members will review proposals that demonstrate clear deliverables and careful thought put toward the time, resources, and required funds.


We’ll provide a CAD 3,500 honorarium and cover an approved list of materials and budget costs upon review.

You'll have access to office space if required and people at HCMA to assist with concept development, running the workshop, marketing, and installation. We’re also open to discussing what support looks like for you.


In consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can work based on your comfort level and adherence to the latest health guidelines. Physical presence in an HCMA office is not a requirement of this project, but finding effective ways to safely engage with HCMA staff will be critical. You will also have access to any resources within HCMA.


Pitch us below and submit the following information in one PDF, by November 25, 2020:

  • Your name and contact info, including your email address
  • The city of the residency you wish to apply for
  • A biography and statement (300 words max.)
  • A brief outline of what you envision your project being (300 words max.)
  • An idea for a workshop related to your project and/or practice, that you are willing to host for the HCMA team
  • A rough estimate of your budget and materials
  • Links to previous work and your website / social media are preferred, but if not possible, please submit images as part of your PDF submission to a maximum of four pages


Final outcomes of a residency may be in any medium and in any genre related to the theme. Please propose your ideas.

In the interest of facilitating learning and knowledge exchange between residing artists and the HCMA team, residing artists are asked to host a workshop for the team. Support will be provided by HCMA team members.

HCMA is committed to supporting artists however they may choose to self-identify. We encourage everyone to submit an application for a residency.