MASH NOTES: Urban Polling in the City and the Museum of Vancouver

Yesterday Marie and I were invited to the  Museum of Vancouver to attend a talk by the curators of MASH NOTES, a collaborative project between the museum, Alex Beim from Tangible Interactive, and architect Michael Green. MASH NOTES is the third and final part of a series called Not An Architectural Speaker’s Series, which were talks and events aimed at fostering community engagement with the urban environment.

MASH NOTES is comprised of interactive installations designed to prompt Vancouverites to discuss architecture and our urban environment, and to encourage visits to the Museum of Vancouver. The components of MASH NOTES include:

1. Three polling kiosks located at Woodward’s, the Roundhouse Community Centre and 700 block of Granville Street.

2. Data visualizers inside the Museum of Vancouver: the Voice It Data Visualizers and the Voice It Table

3. The MASH NOTES website


1. Three Polling Kiosks

Marie and I saw the kiosk at The Roundhouse Community Centre when we were there for the Ipsita Nova Dance Project.  (Above)


We both voted for the sea. You don’t get to see the results after you vote. Your curiosity is suppose to compel a visit to the MASH NOTES website.

Each kiosk asks a different question and the kiosks placed where they would be most relevant. For example, a question about the seawall was situated at the Roundhouse Community Centre which is right on the seawall; the question about super-towers is situated at Woodward’s, a site with two high rises; and, the question about density is situated in the downtown core, a high traffic area.

1. The question at Woodward’s:

Vancouver is a young city whose look has shifted with the trends. What should be our signature architectural style?

super-tower or low-rise


2. The question at 700 Granville:

Should we create more density in the city and expand laneway housing or create projects like the Gateway to make it easier to get to the suburbs?

laneway or gateway

Marie noticed that the answers to the question at the Roundhouse were modified in the museum display (and the website). We both agreed it made more sense to change the choices from sea or be seen to seawall or wall to wall.

3. The question at The Roundhouse Community Centre:

Vancouver 2010 showed that active streets make for a fun city. But which is is more important, spaces like the seawall or places where we can see wall to wall people?

seawall or wall to wall

Here is a map of where the three kiosks are located:


2. Data Visualizers


There are three Voice It data visualizers at the Museum of Vancouver. Essentially they are giant screens showing the results of each poll.


At the museum there is also the Voice It Table which displays notes by visitors. A map and floating coloured notes are projected from above onto a white rectangular block. On one end there is a screen and keyboard for visitors to type in comments on Vancouver’s architecture and urban environment.


Here are a few to tickle you:







I added a note:

I hope Woodward’s succeeds.


3. MASH NOTES Website


For more information visit MASH NOTES. You can vote online!


Interesting Tidbits

There was a question period after the two curators Alex Beim and Michael Green finished their talks. One audience member disliked the limiting binary nature of the questions, saying that there is no means for discussion after an answer is made.  One person said the real issue is not laneway housing or the Gateway project but why people cannot afford to live downtown.  Another person mentioned that he saw a woman answer the question at Woodward’s seven times because she was against super-towers.

My thoughts on this matter is that the questions could have been better phrased, but in terms of the selection of issues, they are relevant to today. High-rise developments, the desire to live in Vancouver, and post-Olympics sentiments and effects, these are charged topics frequently in the news and points of protest and debate.

MASH NOTES was named after M. A. S. H, a children’s fortune telling game where a player finds out whether he or she will live in a Mansion, Apartment, Shack or House. It is a clever name because it points to the issue of housing, which, arguably is the determining factor in our quality of life. It is necessary to think about and keep informed about changes in our city because our quality of life is at stake. Yes, it really is just that big of a deal.


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