The Tower on Its Side

“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.

The ‘Walkable Neighbourhoods’ or Quartiers of 1910

Detail from 1910 map in: Vancouver: A Visual History (1992) by Bruce Macdonald.

The plan shows the footprint of development in the City of Vancouver 25 years after the railway arrived, and just four years before the opening of the Panama Canal. The latter triggered a building boom in Vancouver in 1908 the full extent of which is represented here. The 1910 Macdonald map presents an enigmatic portrait of a city about to escape the orbit or limits placed by total reliance on walking and horses, and already embracing the possibilities for extension presented by electrified rail transportation. The values of the walkable urbanism are fully on view. Yet, as we compare this map to the growth of streetcar tracks below, it becomes clear that a new set of values is already expressed in the map. Bruce Macdonald comments via e-mail how the walkability of Vancouver’s named urban villages show a keen resemblance to the quartiers. Continue reading

Towering drawbacks

Richards & Davie, Vancouver

Prof. Patrick Condon, senior researcher with the Design Centre for Sustainability at UBC, reports back on the tower and podium form’s suitability for Vancouver neighbourhoods and quartiers (full article here):

First, if you follow [towers & suburban sprawl] approach you end up with two cities. A city of gleaming glass towers spread like beads on the string of the Skytrain line, disconnected with the surrounding areas they overshadow.  Continue reading

Mount Pleasant Community Plan hits the 19-storey Wall

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

Livable streets, walkable neighbourhoods, affordable regions

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

The Dollar-Cost of Housing the Homeless

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