Noon Friday March 22nd a resident calling himself “The Artist — formerly known as Homelesss Dave” began a hunger strike for social justice and housing the homeless. The hunger strike began six days after the official start of the 40th provincial election campaign on 16 march 2013. His message on Twitter read:
“We’re not about smashing windows. We’re about smashing the old broken paradigms and building new paradigms that are more just and equal.”
“Tower on Its Side” (LNV 1995)
For the purposes of the SUNN: Vancouver Historic Quartiers study we have used the following density figure:
- Tower density (100 units/acre x 120 acres/quartier x 2.2 persons/unit) = 26,400 people per tower neighbourhood.
- Urban House density (75 units/acre x 120 acres/quartier x 2.2 persons/unit) = 19,800 people per walkable neighbourhood or quartier.
Presentation to the Rise Tower, Mount Pleasant Public Hearing:
I have been a property owner in Mount Pleasant since 1988. I attended the open house at the community centre last year, had an extensive discussion with the lead planner, and came away perfectly impressed with the fact that it would be… business as usual.
Mr. Mayor, there is a cancer spreading over our city.
Unless it is stopped, CD1 zoning will ravage our neighborhoods. Not just Mount Pleasant, but all our neighbourhoods. Continue reading
Princess Street, Strathcona
If we are to draw a single conclusion from our the Vancouver Historic Quartiers working process, it would be that urbanism is a phenomenon of our own creation built across several scales of place and spanning centuries of time. Our findings are consistent with the work of others. The quality of the street environment—its “livability”—became our litmus test for measuring urban functioning at the local or district scale; we used the level of “walkability and social mixing” as the measure of urban functioning at the scale of the neighbourhood or quartier; and we used the “affordability of housing” as the measure for urban functioning at the scale of the region as a whole. By establishing different measures for urban functioning at different scales we were finally able to make sense of the urban whole. In the Vancouver’s Historic Quartiers we discovered the finest single piece of urbanism in our region. Continue reading
Social Housing should be part of the regional system, incorporated into neighbourhood planning from the outset. Lewis N. Villegas, The Gastown Principles, March 2011.
Alexander Street in Gastown, pictured above, presents a microcosm of a workable housing strategy. In this photo we see co-op housing, social housing, affordable housing, and hi-end condominiums all on the same city block. There is a higher level of social mix taking place on the street than inside any given building. Continue reading
Our highest priority in designing the city must be to make places that will resonate with human sense experience, and support social functioning. Yet, that will require a shift away from the Modern planning paradigm to the longstanding urban tradition that shapes cities according to physical, social and ecological human needs.
In Vancouver, when we speak about ‘urban design’. For example, when a project goes to the Urban Design Panel for review. However, what we are dealing with is Modern urbanism, rather than the longstanding tradition of urban design. We have argued here that Modern urbanism is bereft in one all important area: it has failed to produce any places of lasting value.
Focusing on just one aspect of ‘good’ urbanism, we list here several characteristics in the built form that are fundamental in shaping the human experience of place. Continue reading
The Vancouver Historic Quartiers presents a new planning paradigm grounded in the human experience of place. We believe that the resulting quality of urban spaces is the right measure for sustainable, or “good” urbanism. In the new paradigm, we design at the scale of the neighbourhood, or quartier, rather than the individual building site. We shape quartiers as places that have lasting social value, with urban rooms serving as hubs of social mixing, shops, services and transit.
The plan above shows the full extent of industrial build out in the Historic Quartiers fueled by the 1920’s vision of sea ports, new railways (CPR 1886; CN 1915), and the opening of the Panama Canal (1914):
[F]irst and foremost Vancouver is a great seaport and… practically the sole ocean port of half a continent, inhabited by a progressive and increasing population, has on its outskirts a river valley with great agricultural possibilities, with a hinterland rich in minerals, lumber and raw materials for manufacture, and adjoining at the moderate distance of five hundred miles the greatest granary of the world. (Bartholomew 1929 : p. 29) Continue reading
We have lost sight of the social, economic, and environmental values embodied by the tradition engendered in the urbanism of the Vancouver Historic Quartiers. If we have forgotten how to look at the city, perhaps it is because we are driving by too fast, or because we are labouring under the false nihilism of the ‘Degree Zero’ doctrines of Modern urbanism. Everywhere we turn in the Historic Quartiers we discover another place, another space, another set of architectural elements honed to embody the values of community, and the values of place. Thickly encrusted by layers of benign neglect, here in our oldest and most venerable places, we can recover the longest, continuous tradition in urbanism, and secure a sustainable future.
Maple Tree Square
The Figuration of Place & the Urban Room
Inside the urban room we stand in a space in the city where we can see the buildings all around. It is a place where the linear tyranny of the street is finally broken, and where the distance separating the buildings can be set to resonate with the mechanisms of human sense perception. When the ratio of the building height, to the distance between the buildings can be described by small, whole-numbers, then a powerful and lasting impression is created in our memory that we term the urban room.
In the long streets of cities platted with regular orthogonal grids one place can look very much like another. In sharp contradistinction, the experience of the urban room is something altogether different.
Four New Transit Lines & the Historic Quartiers
The charrette proposes using the implementation of four transit lines to support the intensification of the Vancouver Historic Quartiers, and the revitalization of Main Street, Hastings Street, Chinatown, and Japantown, together with transit implementation on the Broadway Corridor.
Through transit implementation and urban design we hope to achieve livable streets, walkable neighbourhoods, and housing affordability in the , and region wide.
Urban Spine 1 : 3
The Charrette recommends transportation implementation that will double trip capacity in the new urban spines, and street revitalization to enhance their social functioning. Transit implementation will mediate traffic volumes on the urban spine, while adding sufficient trip capacity to make possible the removal of commuter trips from local streets nearby. Public investment in transportation, and street revitalization combine with private sector intensification to produce the new street types in the quartier. The new public realm caters to transportation needs, and supports social functioning.