Liminal Communities: An Infrastructure for Identity and Belonging in Planned Resource Towns
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Following the economic crisis of 2008, residents of Mackenzie, a remote forestry town in British Columbia, watched as all six local mills closed – putting their economy on pause and forcing nearly a quarter of residents to leave. The ‘instant town’ was established in 1966 to house forestry workers, and was strategically planned to prevent it becoming a private ‘company town’. Despite its planning, Mackenzie remains completely dependent on its initial industry and lacks local control – characteristics shared by many Canadian resource towns. This thesis imagines how architecture and urbanism can facilitate their economic renewal through ‘place-based’ community development and an investment in their capacity to plan, lead, and leverage existing assets. While exploring how planned resource settlements can better express local identities and become places of permanence, the design strategy attempts to integrate industry, community, and the environment through a transformative biomass district heating system, greenway network, and town centre.