Loading Events

From left to right, Jesse McKee, Noha Sedky, Travis Hanks, Christine Rohrbacher, Bruce Haden, Grant Fahlgren, Inge Roecker. Photo by Sean O’Neill

Co-organized by 221A with the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture SALON 2019 Graduate exhibition and public program, this panel discussion addressed the question of how to design affordability, and offers a forum for emerging and professional Architects and Planners to discuss shared culpability and resolutions to Vancouver’s housing crisis.

A common frustration shared by emerging practitioners is that housing is too often pre-determined as unaffordable by the influence of market forces, and by opaque private and public partnerships that take place at the civic planning level. This panel will begin a much-needed conversation amongst practitioners of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Education to propose ways we can meaningfully offer housing alternatives, change the narratives around the housing crisis, and build social power with new models for housing, urbanism and planning.

Designing Affordability was initiated by the Graduating Class of 2019, and will be introduced and moderated by Jesse McKee, Head of Strategy, at 221A.


  • Travis Hanks is Principal at Haeccity [hek sit ee] Studio Architecture, which recently won both First and Planner's Prizes in the Urbanarium's "Missing Middle" competition. Travis has presented housing research, as well as built case studies to various municipalities and interest groups in Greater Vancouver and beyond in order to contribute to policy change around housing choice and affordability. Travis has also served as adjunct faculty at UBC SALA since 2012.
  • Noha Sedky is a planning consultant with two decades of experience. She specializes in housing, land development, and social sustainability. Noha has worked extensively with municipalities and non-profits to help respond to issues of housing affordability and social inclusion. Noha is an Adjunct Professor at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning and an active member of the Canadian Institute of Planners.
  • Bruce Haden is a Principal at Human Studio Architecture and Urban Design.  He is a founding board member of the Urbanarium, where he co-led the “Missing Middle” competition. He is passionate about Vancouver being home to people whose contribution to civic life does not necessarily translate into the income to buy a house here.
  • Inge Roecker is a Principal at ASIR Architekten, as well as founder of livinglab; an interdisciplinary research collective. Inge is an Associate Professor at UBC's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture where her research explores sustainable forms of urban habitation and its relationship with evolving social and cultural entities.
  • Grant Fahlgren is a Project Designer at PFS Studio, and the first Canadian to receive the National Olmstead Scholarship for his graduate project at UBC's School of Landscape Architecture. Grant's research specializes in partnerships between indigenous communities and designers in the Cascadia bioregion; with a specific focus on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and community building.
  • Christine Rohrbacher is a recent graduate of the graduate Architecture program at UBC.  Her thesis research focused on housing and the thresholds between public and private space that allow for a greater quality of life, gentle densification, and affordability opportunities.
  • Jesse McKee (b.1984) is a leader in the Culture Industries, a Curator of Contemporary Art and Design, and he is the Head of Strategy at 221A. 221A works with artists and designers to research and develop social, cultural and ecological infrastructure. There, he leads the Organization’s advancement, communications, research, and programming. The organization develops and operates 14 000 m2 of cultural-use commercial and residential real-estate across a portfolio of properties that are sub-tenanted according to a cost-recovery operating model. 221A’s artistic program hosts long-term Fellowships for artists and designers, as well as producing public realm art and design projects, and develops education and learning programs, which work with communities to improve the public amenities and reduce barriers at the organization's cultural infrastructures and beyond. From 2019-24, McKee is the lead investigator on 221A’s Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Digital Strategy, which is developing a digitally cooperative culture by “recommoning” land, data and objects. From 2020-22, he is a member of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association’s Policy Advisory Council, and he is challenged by rebooting cities and public culture venues in equitable, novel and progressive ways in the wake of the COVID-19 long-tail global pandemic. Previously, he was the Curator of The Banff Centre (2011-15), and has worked with leading cultural organizations such as Western Front, Vancouver; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; The Independent Studio & Curatorial Program, New York; The Barbican Centre, London; Things that can happen, Hong Kong and Tranzit.org, Romania. In 2017, he was the curator of Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures, the inaugural edition of a civic triennial exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. McKee has served as a juror for the Sobey Art Award, and was a member of the Canada Council for the Art's Asia Pacific Delegation. He has written essays and reviews for Canadian Art, C Magazine, Fillip, Border Crossings, Kaleidoscope, and Cura. A recent catalogue essay, Surreal Ghosts and Neuroplastic Ancestors correlates Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson’s filmmaking with the neuroplastic effects of Vancouver’s economic enclosure over the past decade; published by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia and Institute for Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. A recent monograph on the work of the artist Neïl Beloufa, People, Love, War, Data & Travels, includes an essay by McKee, Counting on People: How it Started… How it’s Going, and this text frames the productions of Beloufa’s films from the mid-2010s as they foretold a global pandemic all enacted through video calls, amid the consequences of social media’s unchecked narrative accelerants; edited by Myriam Ben Salah with Benjamin Thorel, and published by After 8 Books, Paris. jmckee@221a.ca  


  • University of British Columbia

Unceded Territory

221A acknowledges that the area called Vancouver is within the unceded Indigenous territories belonging to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. 221A recognizes that the colony of British Columbia was created through organized dispossession and colonial violence. 221A seeks to shift its organizational practices to work together with Indigenous people to end ongoing violence, dispossession and displacement.