Does suburban commercial development always have to be so bland? Why do builders tend to bulldoze everything and start from scratch? What if we applied a bit of vision and imagination to our commercial areas?
Richcraft has applied for a demolition permit so that they can dismantle the big red barn at the Bradley-Craig Farm on Hazeldean Road, and move it to Munster to be re-assembled at Saunders Farm. (The city’s Built Heritage Sub-Committee has already voted against the plan, and the Planning Committee is set to debate the issue on Tuesday, January 26.)
While there are plenty of examples of successful renovations and adaptations of similar barns, part of Richcraft’s justification for moving the barn is that it will be out of context in a commercial development. A century-old barn would look out of place next to a Dollarama or Pizza Pizza, for example.
Instead of “how can the barn fit into the new retail development”, maybe we should be asking “how could the new retail development fit in with the barn”?
That’s the question we put to Ottawa artist Andrew King. King has created some imaginative concepts for projects like Lansdowne Park and Lebreton Flats in the past. We asked him to come up with a creative concept for the Bradley-Craig Farm.
King used an old aerial photograph of the barn from Bing Maps to establish the location and spacing of the buildings, and then went to work designing his concept.
He started with the barn itself, imagining a conversion into a modern performing arts and events venue.
“All too often a suburban space is developed without much respect for the history of the land,” he writes. “A restoration and conversion of the Bradley-Craig barn provides multiple benefits for the community while creating a solid connection to its past.”
Then he went to work filling in the rest of the four-acre site on Hazeldean Road. He imagines a restaurant or brew-pub in the heritage farmhouse, a retail village that recalls the heritage of Stittsville’s Main Street, and a large farmers’ market complex inspired by a traditional rural marketplace.
How realistic is this plan? None of this has been costed out, and the design might not even fall within accepted heritage uses for the farm, but that’s not the point of this exercise. What King is trying to do is to show that with a little imagination, the Bradley-Craig Farm could become something really inspiring for the community, with the landmark barn as the highlight of the development.
“A bit Utopian but I figure dream big first then go from there,” says King.
“I’m not a Stittsville resident but through your posts I know it has a historic farming past that is being lost. Maybe the community can harness their rural roots with a unique space everyone can enjoy and appreciate.”
WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR IDEAS FOR THE FARM. What do you envision for the heritage barn and farmhouse? Add your comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.