CCRC information night outlines building inspirations - Jan. 19, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Hot on the heels of its funding from Huron County being put on ice, the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity (CCRC) took centre stage on Jan. 12 to show off its progress.
Project Director Peter Smith hosted the information evening at the former Blyth Public School which highlighted the future plans for the school site, as well as a number of elements of the project’s future.
Over 35 people were in attendance for the evening, in which locals got their first look at Prix de Rome-winning architect Heather Dubbeldam, who spoke extensively on her plans for the future centre.
While Dubbeldam has yet to craft specific plans for the centre, she listed a number of aspects of sustainable architecture that will inspire the plans, including smart design to capture light, heat and wind simply through the building’s design.
Dubbeldam said that architects, just like any other artist that will work through the CCRC or the Blyth Festival, tells stories. Architects simply tell the stories of the community through the buildings they construct.
With the CCRC, there will be, and has already been, extensive consultation and research into not only Blyth’s history, but the history of surrounding communities in Huron County. Through this research and ongoing discussions with local stakeholders, Dubbeldam hopes to discover the identity of the building and find inspiration for the building so it fits into the community and tells the community’s story.
As for sustainable elements that will lend themselves to the building’s design, Dubbeldam says she’ll look to some of the more progressive countries in Europe, like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, that she says are all 30 years ahead of Canada when it comes to sustainable building design.
She also told those in attendance that the building will use efficient windows and plumbing fixtures. The goal, essentially, she said, is to use as little energy as possible, while using sustainable materials to construct the building.
Dubbeldam says that she and her team will do their best to use local contractors for the work, as well, to help stimulate the local economy through the building’s construction.
Jennifer Triemstra-Johnston, Program Director for the Fashion Arts and Textile Studio (FACTS) program at the CCRC, then spoke about the progression of her program, saying that partnerships are in the midst of being forged with fashion schools throughout North America.
Triemstra-Johnston said that she and Blyth 14/19 Administrator Karen Stewart recently travelled throughout Canada and the United States to meet people and draw inspiration from programs in order to further craft the FACTS program, which is already underway.
She talked about sustainable fashion movements, including fibreshed, and their place in the centre’s future.
Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt also spoke about the Blyth Festival, the renovations to Memorial Hall and the potential for the CCRC.
Garratt told those in attendance that he and those behind the Festival faced some very dark days not that many years ago when the reality of needed repairs at the hall were paired with the reality that the Festival wouldn’t be able to pay for them.
However, so much has changed and the hall is in the midst of being modernized thanks to the millions of dollars that have been brought in by the Blyth 14/19 initiative.
In an interview after the information session, Smith said he is confident in the project and knows it will succeed.
First, he said he was energized to see so many people in the audience for the information session, saying that the interest in the project is definitely there in the community.
He did say, however, that he had been disheartened by some of the comments made by Huron County councillors in last week’s issue of The Citizen. The project, he said, has already raised over $7 million for the community in just over three years, so from his viewpoint, it’s hard to see what is happening as anything other than positive.
He said that he and Stewart are working hard to get the county what it’s looking for in a business plan and requested partnerships, but says that while some councillors felt the project was being derailed, Smith said he didn’t feel that was the case.
The negativity about the project, he said, is still a mystery to him.
The project, he said, is a start-up that generated a lot of enthusiasm with the Huron County Economic Development Board, which supported the proposal. He and Stewart will return to council with an update and a hope that the relationship can be patched up and the two can move forward together.
For more information about the project, visit ruralcreativity.org.