The new application offers an immersive audio tour of the architectural highlights of bus n ° 10

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It’s a Friday afternoon and the # 10 bus is nearly empty as it exits the loop on Aubrey Street. It’s a bit early for the after-work commuters and a bit late for the after-school crowds. I am far from alone, however.

As the bus – a dated thing with lumpy blue vinyl seats and rocky idle – rolls east on Wolseley, John K. Samson draws my attention to the brick walls and limestone trim of Laura School. Secord, which I learn was designed by architect JB Mitchell and opened in December 1913.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Precious Blood Church in St. Boniface is among the landmarks discussed in the Archi10 audio tour designed by audio producer Julie Penner, left, and Susan Algie.

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MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Precious Blood Church in St. Boniface is among the landmarks discussed in the Archi10 audio tour designed by audio producer Julie Penner, left, and Susan Algie.

No, the leader of the Weakerthans doesn’t spend his days on the bus, pointing out local landmarks to other runners in a soft, monotonous tone. Not exactly. Samson is one of the narrators of the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation’s new smartphone app, Archi10, which provides a highly accurate audio tour of some of the city’s most significant buildings.

“I live in Wolseley and have taken the # 10 bus a couple of times and have always thought it was one of the nicest routes in town,” said the foundation’s CEO. , Susan Algie. “It got me thinking about how we can celebrate this.”

The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the city’s built environment. The organization has an extensive online catalog of private residences and public addresses of architectural significance, as well as a number of self-guided and digital tours, none of which are as immersive as the Archi10 bus tour.

“The idea is that you get on the bus anywhere along the route… and learn a bit about the different buildings coming and going,” says Algie. “People who take the bus to work or school might do that, but also if you came to town and wanted a fun little tour, you could buy a bus ticket and get on board.”

“The idea is that you get on the bus anywhere along the way… and learn a bit about the different buildings coming and going.” – Susan Algie

Number 10 crosses Wolseley and Saint-Boniface, passing through 37 remarkable places, including the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, the Bank of Montreal, Maison Gabrielle-Roy and the University of Saint-Boniface. The tour lasts around an hour and is powered by GPS, so narration and points of interest are triggered automatically.

The tour is available in English or French with Samson narrating the western half of the tour and singer-songwriter Andrina Turenne covering the eastern French-speaking part. Aside from the architecture, the music is a central point of the bus tour – for reasons of interest and logistics.



<p>A screenshot of Air Canada’s building and fleet app.</p>
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<p>A screenshot of the Air Canada building and park app.</p>
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<p>“Music was a whole new level of information that we wanted to include and that became its own challenge,” says Julie Penner, violinist and audio producer who helped create the Archi10 app.  “I had to take the bus, like, a billion times to stop.”			</p>
<p>Due to the format of the tour, the narration could not be longer than the time it took to get from one building to another.  Sometimes the distance between landmarks is covered in seconds, other times in minutes.  To fill in the longer gaps, Penner asked each artist to perform a song.  Samson covers the section between Westminster United Church and Aubrey Street with <em>Prayer for Ruby Elm</em> and Turenne sings an interpretation of Gérard (Ziz) Jean’s aria <em>History of yesteryear</em> while the bus runs between Precious Blood Church and Saint-Boniface Hospital.			</p>
<p>“I thought of these two songs as something that these two artists wrote or that was closely related to this iconic feeling of neighborhoods,” said Penner.  “(<em>History of yesteryear</em>) is sort of the unofficial anthem of the Franco-Manitoban community… and the people of Wolseley are very attached to their elms. ”			</p>
<p>The tour is also accompanied by an original soundtrack by Jason Tait, former drummer for the Weakerthans and husband of Penner.  The instrumental background music is full of meaning.  The tone changes as the bus enters new neighborhoods, speeding through the bustling city center and swelling with violin melancholy in Saint-Boniface.  Tait also drums on Tyndall Stone throughout the route, a nod to locally sourced building materials found almost everywhere along the route.			</p>
<p>The Archi10 application was launched at the end of November but has been in preparation for several years.  The schedule has been extended, due to the technical complexity of the project and several unforeseen roadblocks, namely a last-minute change of itinerary and a pandemic which considerably reduced bus ridership.			</p>
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<p>A screenshot of a building and a map of the app.</p>
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<p>A screenshot of a building and a map of the app.</p>
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<p>“We imagined launching the app with a big party on the bus with music,” says Penner.  “I still hope there will be a time when we can make this public presentation of it, but for now, it’s an individual experience.”			</p>
<p>It is also a relaxing experience.  The tour pauses if the app is closed, so listeners are simply forced to listen and watch the city go by without being distracted.  The act of looking, after all, is the goal of the project.			</p>
<p>“If we get people to look at not only fancy buildings but also buildings in their own neighborhood, it helps educate them to demand the best designs,” says Algie.  “I think it’s very important that people think about their cities and what they look like and the things that we value in them.”			</p>
<p># 10 is the only route currently available on the app and while Algie does not object to the creation of other bus routes any future additions are dependent on time and funding.  The tour is designed to be enjoyed on the bus, but can also be experienced by scrolling through the app at home or driving along the route (safe and hands-free, of course).			</p>
<p>Visit winnipegarchitecture.ca for links to download the free Archi10 app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store.			</p>
<p>eva.wasney@freepress.mb.ca			</p>
<p>Twitter: @evawasney			</p>
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Eva wasney


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