Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

London’s new look offers lessons for Vancouver

with one comment

Trevor Boddy, The Globe and Mail

This follows on nicely from Michael Geller’s Lessons from Around the World. An architect in London has been trying to recreate the social diversity that used to make so many of the now over priced fashionable areas interesting. He has also noticed that if he puts in mixed use that includes shops too small to appeal to the big chains, the retail environment improves too.

It’s one of those ideas that when you read it, it seems so obvious you wonder why it hasn’t been tried before. But as Michael explained last night developers are herd animals that make sheep look like individualists.

Trevor Boddy also has taken the time to spell out what this would mean here and I will break from my usual practice and let him have a lot of space.

In Vancouver, our existing models for social housing provision have broken down, be it the 20 per cent of site areas set aside for affordable housing that then never get government funding, or the hyper-concentration in the Downtown Eastside of what little social housing does actually get built.

We now hear talk of the government reneging on its commitment to the Little Mountain social housing site (west of Main Street, south of 33rd Avenue) by redeveloping it as market housing, and market housing alone.

The social housing units promised for this project may instead be shipped to another part of the city, almost certainly further east.

Vancouver needs to stick by its long-established policies promoting variety in housing tenures and types, and reject this Faustian tradeoff of less diversity for more units elsewhere.

One of Vancouver’s historic strengths is its social and racial integration. Eastside arterial strips need to be developed with much denser concentrations of market housing and new offices, but we also need creative ways to integrate the needy, the aged, and the creative into our equivalents of Sloane Square.

Some of Paul Davis and Partners’ ideas on display in the Duke of York Square formula might work for Robson, South Granville, Dunbar or West 41st.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 21, 2008 at 8:55 am

One Response

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  1. An ingenious and tried and true design device.


    March 26, 2008 at 2:32 pm

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