Contingent begins in the middle. We are one part think tank, one part design firm, one part platform for inquiry and exchange. A design research cooperative based in Vancouver and Tokyo, Contingent was founded in 2017 by Roy Cloutier, Nicole Sylvia, and Lőrinc Vass.

We seek out new material and social arrangements. New forms for the city and for shared, collective life are the basis of our work—after all, the two go hand in hand. Contingent’s design research envisions new ways we could exist together in the world, keyed to the crucial social and ecological challenges we face.

We work in a contingent manner. Our work embraces context in its many forms, seeking out latent potential in the conditions of each project. We treat the design research process as a collaboration in which the designer’s intention intertwines with and is enriched by myriad forces beyond itself—orchestrating them together into a sophisticated whole. In our work, these contexts range from the complexities of a given site to historical precedents, from the characteristics of construction tools and materials to complex ecological systems, from the weather patterns of a given locale to planetary-scale political and economic systems.

We love to share ideas and would love to hear yours. Our research spans a diverse array of scales, themes, media, and collaborators — all drawn together around the ambition of creating welcoming and convivial spaces. Our work has been published in numerous books, journals, and conferences — most recently in Footprint Journal, Bracket Journal, and the forthcoming book Design Commons: Practices, Processes, and Crossovers. Nicole, Roy, and Lőrinc are consistent contributors to the UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture as adjunct professors, guest reviewers, and thesis advisors. Through SALA, they have taught courses including study abroad programs in Japan and India, design studios, history/theory seminars, and design media courses.

Roy Cloutier
Adjunct Professor, UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
Designer, Patkau Architects

Nicole Sylvia
Adjunct Professor, UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
Designer, Patkau Architects

Lőrinc Vass
Doctoral Student, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture
Designer, Pechet Studio

Past Collaborators
Pengfei Du
Jennifer Leung
Neal Qiongyu Li
Daichi Yamashita

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