The climate zone map for planting tells us which species of plants will survive in specific areas. Calgary is zone 2b because of its elevation, the mountains and its chinooks, föhn winds that come from Pacific weather systems and which wreak havoc with plants who wake up on a balmy January morning thinking it is spring only to be blasted with -30 the next week. Within zone 2b however there are frost pockets and warm spots. In the lee of the downtown with tall buildings blocking the wind and giving off heat is zone 4. North Bay is zone 3b . Vancouver Island is mostly 7a and b, parts of the Fraser River delta are zone 8, meaning they can grow almost anything.
There is a building corollary to all of this: with each climate zone come various fine-grained architectural responses.
What are the local building traditions in your area of your climate zone?
As Canada becomes increasingly urbanised and we live more and more in mass-produced developments whether suburban or urban, it might be difficult to discern what exactly is local. However, we are interested in small things.
There are always vernacular traditions in any area: do these give a sense of scale that remains, even in contemporary building?
There is always weather: how have buildings been shaped to particular conditions such as excessive rain, high humidity, very cold temperatures, hot dry winds, bright sun, low cloud?
In the climate zone map for building, one area might have similar weather, but entirely different cultural responses to that weather. These would be a product of immigrant traditions, regional building materials, topography, geology.
We wish to collect a database of specific examples of very local traditions, from form to roof slopes to door placement, with a hazarding of why things are built the way they are. The stepless door, so famous in Newfoundland, is not about climate, or weather, or materials, but is about social propriety. The ubiquity of the tarp, a building material in its own right on the west coast, is not about propriety, it is about rain.
You all live in different places and probably know what is specific to your area, you might take them for granted but we would like to know about them in the rest of Canada. We aren't looking for the one-off invention, but something that is repeated, with variations on a theme, or on a type.
Send us an image, 100dpi, 500px wide, the location, the zone and a brief description and we will start to post them here. Do forward this to anyone else you think might be interested in contributing.