Hapa Collaborative is a landscape architecture and urban design practice established with placemaking, attentiveness and collaboration in mind. We see each project as an opportunity to partner, to dream big and to synthesize ideas wrought from many, often opposing, influences. Our goal with each commission is to evoke the poetry of the place and in doing so reveal something delightful but perhaps previously unseen. Most of all, Hapa Collaborative is a new voice for contemporary landscape design and a small, agile and fresh alternative to traditional landscape architecture practice.
Hapa Collaborative works within the full breadth of scales from master plans to pocket parks, civic spaces to private residences, streetscapes to green roofs. However we like to specialize in landscape urbanism, integrated sites and community consultation processes. We like to explore new materials, forge new relationships and ultimately build places that people remember.
Hapa means many things: half, mixed, or hybrid; originally a pejorative term for someone of part Asian ethnicity and, by extension, anything shaped by the collision of cultural influences. Hapa can be defined as an intentional disturbance – an explosion – that creates space for something new. It is an apt description of Vancouver’s cosmopolitan complexity and an emblem of our own profession’s mixed pedigree: landscape and architecture, art and science, nature and culture. Hapa is also a Japanese word for ‘leaf.’
Our studio of ten designers is a daily collaboration between people with different backgrounds and training, and a mix of skills and specialization. We love the fact that this mix is present in our design process and is often realized in the final design direction in our work.
At Hapa we believe that an approach that embraces challenges and handles them deftly, creatively and collaboratively will result in the most delightful and unique solutions. We seek out opportunities that test these ideas with the hope and expectation that the exceptional experience of the public realm we all seek is the ultimate result.
As landscape architects we are experts at synthesizing disparate criteria into a sum greater than its parts. We listen to the knowledge of others, editing and refining this information into a final cohesive design. As a small practice, we are required to be nimble and timely in our responses, to work well with our collaborators, and take the time to apply thoughtful design ideas and a creative spirit to our work. It is this spirit of alchemy – the synthesis of technical need and visionary design ideas – that we feel will be a benefit to the process and the ultimate design strategies for a project.
As a practice, we concentrate much of our efforts on finding and revealing the latent character of a place to make it part of the experience of the site and story of the client. We see great potential in doing our research and proposing a few modest interventions that are complimentary and perhaps revelatory of the existing quality of the place, its history and its role in the public realm.
We believe the best way to prepare is to ask lots of questions of ourselves, have informed engagement with the community, and provide a highly rational response. As designers of the public realm that provides the greatest benefit to the most, the landscape architect’s advocacy role will be critical. Hapa will meet early and often with the working group and the design team to invigorate the design process. We will apply our energy to develop thoughtful design solutions that respond to the tough questions we will inevitably need to answer.