More blogs about buildings and streets

A couple of weeks back we wrote about some excellent Ottawa blogs that take an urbanist point of view with them as they explore our city’s streets and structures.

Today we’ve got three more that are well worth adding to your RSS reader; Spacing Ottawa checks these ones on a daily basis to see what new gems have been brought to light.

We’ll start with the photoblog Wawtawa Life maintained by photographer Robin Kelsey. Robin tries to post one image every day, and though he’s slowed off that pace a bit recently he still manages to be one of the most regular photobloggers around. Based near Somerset West, his eye for the telling detail is superb as he chronicles the fascinating streetscape of Chinatown and adjacent downtown districts. He’s a clever man with his photoshop, but for our money he is at his very best when he employs composition or  perspective to tell a story. One mild criticism; it would be great if Wawtawa included a thumbnail gallery to make navigating the site a bit simpler. Still, clicking on a text description instead of a thumbnail image does add to the surprise factor.

Modern Ottawa –MOOT– looks at all sorts of spaces and structures in Ottawa, often taking a fresh look at interior spaces we might otherwise take for granted. A recent post explored the World Exchange Plaza, highlighting design features many users likely don’t notice as they hurry through the complex on the way to catch a bus or get in line to see a flick upstairs at the Empire.

Marie, MOOT’s blogger-in-chief, keeps her designer’s eye open for features from other cities that could be easily adapted for use in Ottawa; check her posts on Florence’s “iBus” stops or her post comparing some of Ottawa’s aging street furniture with innovative designs from cities in Europe and Asia. The commenters really add value to this blog, too – one of them tipped off readers to the secret location of the plaza’s huge hanging whales while they are displaced by the two-story Christmas trees over the holiday season.

Described as “a chronicle of observations on Ottawa’s architecture, urban design and history” Robert Smythe’s Urbsite is an absolute treasure-trove for readers who share Robert’s fascination with Ottawa’s ever-changing built environment. Each post includes compelling photographs – often archival – and wonderfully detailed accompanying notes. We’d be hard- pressed to point out our favourite posts as they are all crafted with such care, but perhaps most delightful are the discoveries that crop up throughout the narrative of the blog, as when Robert comes across what may be the world’s only brutalist bike rack , tracks down the incongruous (or is it?) location of two of the grand torchieres from the waiting hall of the old Union Station, or finds the archival photograph that proves the provenance of the Trafalgar Square fountain now given pride-of-place in Confederation Park.

The time flies by as you dip into the archived posts at Urbsite, and each page will reward your attention with something you probably didn’t know about our city’s built form.

photo by Justin Van Leeuwen


  1. Thanks for mentioning my photo blog in such good company. Cheers!
    -Robin Kelsey

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