Play the City

What is it?

604 used to be the only Vancouver area code, and is still the code used when referring to the city.

A Vancouver Special is a friendly, distinctly lo-fi type of house built in Vancouver from the 60's - 80's (and beyond). Boxy like a pixel, relatively inexpensive to build, room for everyone. Built across the city, they reflect a variety of cultures, traditions, and innovations. Definitely “the people’s" house. 

604Special.org provides a virtual space to connect, inspire, help and show projects.  

A "604 Special" loosely refers to a diy, portable instrument that's fun on its own, but even better with others. Other types of "604"s may be developed over time and collaborations.

Do projects have to be about the Vancouver Special? No, its more like a state of mind - let’s celebrate the virtues of this ubiquitous house and create interactive and collaborative public projects about or inspired by the city in whatever media you like. No one's in charge, do what you like, just make sure you tag #604special so we can see.

Don't live here? Like the house itself, 604Special.org is way more spirit than it is location or architecture. Let us be virtual exchange students.


604special.org acknowledges that we live on the stolen lands

of the Musqueum, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh Nations.

a still from an augmented reality scene on a city sidewalk of a person outlined in yellow dots, poised to dig into the ground.

Anyone interested in collaborating on some public AR projects?

I started out thinking bus stops, but now I feel like that might be a bit dangerous being so close to the road. I'm a medium-level user of Adobe Aero, happy to collaborate with users/newbies alike.


Try it!

This QR code will ask to open the AR experience on your phone, by temporarily downloading an Adobe Aero viewer. This looks different on different phones.

The scene has a horizontal anchor, so point your phone at a horizontal surface (the floor or a table top).

The set-up will be different on different phones - it should work fairly easily on all IOS phones, and these Androids:

  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • Pixel 4XL.

Post anything that works on your social media and tag #604Special so we can see.

A saturated colour photo of a Vancouver Special, East Van style with lions, white cast concrete fence, figs and pears.
Chat GPT Haiku about Vancouver Special - I'm pretty sure you could do better.

Boxy frames stand tall,  
Vancouver's signature homes,  
Special in their own.

Two levels, peaked roofs,  
Narrow windows, unique charm,  
Specials grace our streets.

In every neighborhood,  
Vancouver Specials stand proud,  
Architectural tales.

A very cool website about Vancouver Specials: vancouverspecial.com

A wooden box with a collection of wires, electronic components and a speaker.

The 604 Special - a Vancouver version of a portable battery powered very low-fi sampler.

It records 8-20 seconds, can record over, loop and has a momentary (beat) button. It has a speed/tempo knob which can be used in both playback and record. Fun to play on your own, but more fun with a few.

I got really inspired by the ISD 1820 (see below), and watched many DIY videos to build and problem-solve this lofi sampler/synth.  After many many hours and variations, (Houston) we have a prototype.

Love Letter: The ISD 1820

It is Feb, the month of love. The ISD 1820 is certainly something to bring home to mother - it records and plays back, and can be modified quite easily if you like to solder. There are a billion how-to's on youtube, here are two: Simple, Inspiring. This one is quite similar to the one I ended up with, tho I modified some function and method. ISD 1820s are quite inexpensive ($5 ish). I saw somwewhere that they claim the recording will last 100 years, I hope it's true - kind of cool.



Collaborate Here!

I'm just one person at the moment (Suzanne Klassen, she/her). I made this space for anyone interested in collaborating on projects. I am interested in collaborating myself,  but also in connecting others who may want to work together. It would be fabulous if people were into sharing their experience and skills. The few I have I'm happy to share. There is no funder and 604Special.org is just the name of the site, there is no organization per se. If you have questions or are interested in collaborating, please email or dm me.

Get your Work on the Map!

I'm not quite sure how, but I bet there's a way you can send me the location of your work (or somebody else's interesting work)and I can get it on the map somehow.  Send me something, lets figure it out.

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