Victoria BC’s Rock Bay Industrial District—the Workshop of the City—is home to an essential reservoir of living income employment and services crucial to health and resilience of the region. Diminished land supply, aged low-density building stock, and high property taxes have contributed to brittle conditions throughout the sector. These wide reaching implications include: Anchor business migration, development confidence depletion, and an affordability crisis threatening viability of the area.

As a case study that acts across urban and building scales, Adaptive City explores the district’s immediate and interim time frames over three phased scenarios (1,2 & 2+). It envisions a distributed Small Business Incubator that operates within social, spatial and policy domains to increase adaptive capacities of stakeholders and fabric. By catalyzing alliances, latent resources and vernacular patterns, access and opportunity can be increased, while an integrated network and community emerges.

The District is comprised of a diverse mix of small businesses that operate in tightly connected double height buildings, largely in need of seismic upgrades, but low-tech and highly reconfigurable. Tenant Improvement options consist of shell space partitions and expansions, with up to 25% ancillary (supportive or complimentary use) at ground, and flex-space mezzanines up to 28.5% of floor area.

Proposed is an inversion of this model, with flex space allowances at ground bound to the ancillary framework, and supported by the Incubator with no land reserve losses. An inverted model enables access for in-situ seed businesses that compliment and enhance the production, distribution, and repair environment while providing unforeseen services to the public.

Inclusive policy based integration that gives agency to social actors enables elasticity necessary to carry the industrial core forward as a key urban asset. In demonstration, cost-efficient scenarios—originating at 2740 Bridge St—imagine Hoyne Brewing as a primary Incubator Host to a tech startup and subsequent tasting room entrepreneur, who help streamline and scale up production, while managing distribution and point of sale. Size-appropriate access to the startups softens Hoyne’s exposure by further utilizing interior airspace. The alliances provide hybrid business models, populace, and extensibility, with further potential overflow into accessory buildings swapped to underutilized space throughout the district.

Joyce Drohan
Mari Fujita [CHAIR]
Leslie Van Duzer