retroprojective roundabouts

‘The past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past’. [T.S. Eliot]

^ Roundabout Vancouver. 1914

< What would a metropolis in the Pacific Northwest look like if urban planners at the turn of the 20th century recognized and exploited the spatial potential of existing old growth trees rather than their perceived resource potential? Employing techniques of photomontage and urban mapping Goodweather takes us on an anachronistic detour that decouples empirical fact from historical memory. While in the present city of Vancouver, the centre space of roundabouts is given over to various sanctioned treatments—community gardens, a monumental rock, and so on—in this “retroprojective” proposal an alternative vision of the not-so-distant past is offered, one wherein forward-thinking city planners leave an old growth tree at the centre of each future roundabout. With this simple gesture we can envisage an entirely different city, one in which the massive trees are no longer a rarity but instead fundamentally define and shape our movement through the urban fabric of Vancouver. While the singular presence of each tree is in itself remarkable, their collective existence is a legacy comparable in size and density to that of Stanley Park, Vancouver’s beloved urban green-space. With this action on the civic imagination the city becomes a forest, and the forest a city.

[text & images> Roundabout Vancouver by Goodweather Collective] [Cabinet Magazine#43] [WE:Vancouver]

Roundabout Vancouver. 1920s

Roundabout Vancouver. 1930s

Roundabout Vancouver. 2010

Roundabout Vancouver. Residual distributed / condensed forest


  1. Love it.

    Great Images.

    The dialogue needs to be; how do we engage in planning processes with a 200-500 year time horizon?

    Hard problem. But images like this, make a very real visual story of what might be possible in such a world of planning. I will try to incorporate it in some upcoming presentations and see how this framing works.

  2. Stunning masters of the Earth, sequoia trees should have really deserved a special place on people’s heart. Huge trees are the only things you can’t have where you want them, even if you are willing to spend billions. You can build monuments, gold sculptures and mausoleums but big trees grow roots in their birthplace with the same tenacity of a bear’s tooth. In his essay on trees (Forests) Robert Pogue Harrison explained, better than any other writer I know, the value of trees throughout history and the way human beings, repeatedly ignored their legacy and deep meaning. Thank you for sharing these pictures and story with all of us.


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