Tag Archives: Vancouver

‘Low-rises are great for the community and the residents’

### theglobeandmail.com Tuesday, 10 July 2012, 1:07 PM EDT
Last updated Tues, 10 July 2012, 1:15 PM EDT
Real Estate
High time for more low-rises
By Nadani Ditmars
The traditional “Vancouverist” model of a tower and podium may well be headed for a civic sea change. In the midst of controversy over proposed new towers – like the Rize Alliance development in Mount Pleasant that continues to draw significant community opposition despite being approved by council – several new “low-rise” projects are quietly making their mark on the urban landscape.

Call it the “slow-rise” revolution if you will, but the model that is gaining ground is one that evokes an earlier era and a more human scale, with uniquely contemporary design. Centred around Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods, projects like Gastown’s Paris Annex, Chinatown’s Flats on Georgia and Mount Pleasant’s Collection 45 offer modernist architectural values that respect the surrounding built-and-social environments in a way that the city’s growing number of cookie-cutter towers do not.

Developer Robert Fung, whose six-storey Paris Annex building will be completed this summer, and has already sold out, contends that “our region needs density – it’s crucially important. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be exclusively through high-rises.” He notes that Paris, one of the densest cities in the world, achieved that density largely through the six-storey walk-up typology.

While he believes that high-rises can be designed with sensitivity to their environment, low-rises offer certain advantages, says Mr. Fung, “They increase light in an area,” he notes. “They offer a strong sense of identity and individuality, but at the same time make it easier for neighbours to get to know each other.”

Because of the low-rise’s need to be “strongly contextual to where they are,” he says, “that can often mean a higher level of design, and greater attention to detail,” noting that “our historic neighbourhoods tend to offer greater opportunities for this, as the buildings have to have a greater sense of engagement with their environment.”

He notes that some towers in the area, like the Woodwards one, tend to be “inward looking” with a lack of “street-front engagement.” Low-rises by nature have a greater engagement with the street and tend to go against the grain of the “commodity ubiquity towers” that proliferate around, say, the False Creek South area.
Street view-HASTINGS-10The Paris Annex is a conjoined fraternal twin of sorts to the next-door heritage conversion (and former HQ of Paris boot-makers) Paris Block. Both buildings, designed by architect Gair Williamson, share service core infrastructure.

“You have to walk through the old 1907 building to enter the new one,” notes Mr. Williamson. “Every day, residents are literally moving through history.”

The elegant 35-foot building of glass and steel will contain 2,500 square feet of retail on the ground floor and mezzanine, with 17 market residential units on the upper floors.

The constraints of these “character sites,” as Mr. Williamson calls them, “make them unique. When you work on a 25-foot site, you have to respond with integrity and be hyper-aware of the surrounding environment.”
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Vancouver – how to bankroll ‘civic responsibility’ in the built environment

### thetyee.ca 25 June 2010
Vancouver’s Architectural Revival
Behind the shiny surfaces there is a public logic guided by City Hall policies.
By Adele Weder, TheTyee.ca

[Editor’s note: This is excerpted from A Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Vancouver, just published by Douglas and McIntyre. A second excerpt on Vancouver as ‘supermodel,’ by Matthew Soules, runs next week.]

On Aug. 7, 1971, officers on horseback charged into a crowd in Gastown, the original downtown core of Vancouver, and swung their batons at the thousand people who had gathered or wandered there to protest marijuana laws and the nefarious police tactics used to enforce them. At the intersection of Abbott and Cordova, marchers and onlookers were beaten or hauled into paddywagons and the public gathering soon transformed into what became known as the Gastown Riot, one of the most notorious brawls in the city’s history. In the years that followed, the neighbourhood withered, its zoning geared towards the tawdry tourist outlets that would long dominate it, its days as a gathering site all but over.

Making architecture is, at its core, a political action. Implicit in the design approach is the decision to encourage or thwart public gatherings, nurture or displace the poor, ignite or asphyxiate street life, rabble-rouse or calm the streets for paying visitors. At first glance, the shiny newness of central Vancouver suggests a manifesto of clarity and order, a divergence from the fiery social consciousness of decades past. (To sample that sensation, comb through the photo essay of buildings accompanying this essay.)

Underlying these images of finesse and resolve, however, are backstories of complex negotiations between public and private interests whose endgame is the greater public good. With increased density allowance as the currency, the resulting deals have spawned an unprecedented array of community centres, daycares, parks, public art and social housing.

Gastown’s current robust and widely inclusive revival owes much to City Hall — the very institution that had sanctioned the police bullying and subsequent neighbourhood stagnation in the first place.
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Adele Weder is a Vancouver-based architectural writer and curator, and co-author of the Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Vancouver.

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

/via RT @BusbyPW Vancouver”s Architectural Revival @TheTyee http://thetyee.ca/Books/2010/06/25/VancouversArchitecturalRevival/

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Dunedin’s ungreen side…

Stuff to ponder from one of Paul’s favourite places:

### The Vancouver Sun October 20, 2009 11:36 PM
Mayor releases plan to make Vancouver the world’s greenest city by 2020
By Gerry Bellett

Mayor Gregor Robertson announced an ambitious 10-year plan Tuesday to make Vancouver the world’s greenest city by 2020. Robertson presented the plan to Gaining Ground-Resilient Cities conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
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Meanwhile at Berlin…

### Talkitect.com Oct 19, 2009
Save Berlin
Save Berlin is a project aiming to catalogue and present ideas about the urban condition of Berlin. To combat unwanted and misguided change, this forum gives everyone a voice in the development of our beloved city.

What is your vision for Berlin?

Berlin is changing. The city’s leaders have plans for a sanitized Euro-capital. They’re replacing the city’s history and character with shopping malls and luxury condos. Their ideas for 21st Century Berlin landmarks: a fake Baroque palace and a copy of London’s giant Ferris wheel. Berlin is a city of daring artists and irreverent dreamers.

Save Berlin 09 (November 13-15, 2009) taps into Berliners’ enormous resource of imagination, asking for new visionary schemes for Berlin, to inspire debate and build a vision for the city’s future. Come join the conversation, and let’s show we can do better!
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