Strathcona’s Urbanism


Cottage Lot Urbanism in Strathcona and Places Adjacent

The resilience of the 25-foot Cottage Lot is as remarkable as their urban quality is superlative. In the face of re-zoning pressures mounting all around, Strathcona residents kept the beat alive in a manner quite unlike any other part of the city.

  • Cottage Lots (red)
  •  1960’s Housing Projects (moca)
  •  Schools/Parks (green)


The map shows the fine grain of cottage lots—the sliver-thin rectangles are the cottage footprints remaining in the old East End. The greatest concentration is south of Hastings in the area named Strathcona after 1950. The gaps isolating the Strathcona cottages from Chinatown (west), and Vernon Drive (east) are the sites of the MacLean and Raymur Social Housing Tower Projects from the 1960’s (not shown).

In spite of the regularity and evenness of the buildout, there is plenty of room left in the area to support residential intensification without crowding. The Charrette analysis shows that the population in Cottage Lot streets can double through incremental renovation and infill. While the redevelopment of the social housing tower blocks as urban houses will not net the quartier any new units, it will dramatically change both the quality of housing, and the resulting public realm. What is envisioned is raising structures to add extra floors and achieve 3.5 storey height.

That result would be very desirable. A stable neighbourhood would be given a new license to add living space, create mortgage helper suites, and build affordable rental housing all within easy walking distance of Japantown, Chinatown, Gastown, and a new LRT on Hastings Street.

© Lewis N. Villegas, Vancouver, January 2012.

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