Cranberries and the City— In Spring (left), the cranberry bog is an imprinted plane of vegetation, while in Fall (right) the plane is flooded red and harvested amidst daily urban practices.
From agriculture, urban development to the tossed salad landscape.
What incentives can we offer developers to build viable and place-specific agricultural land in exchange for bonus density?
Apple Lot: Spaces of transition, like parking lots, can support food production and shade vehicles. The regularity of orchard planting complements the orderlieness of parked cars.
Pumpkins vs. Mow-n-blow: Do we want to pay to irrigate and mow lawns in parks and other public amenity spaces or use that money and space to grow food?

Tossed Salad

The Thin Green Line that defines the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a boundary that frames our attempts to mitigate growth, preserve arable land and maintain an agrarian landscape character in municipalities undergoing a massive transformation from rural to urban form. The ALR boundary establishes a wonderful edge in many places – a stark contrast between land uses, reinforced by the ‘boundary’ landscape, a place to observe from the safety of the edge.

In other areas however, the boundary is pockmarked by odd and incongruous land uses: big-box religion, surrounded by acres of occasionally used parking, is acceptable in the ALR; the placeless fake landscapes of golf courses – one of the worst offenders of chemical pollution – are permitted. Monster homes, often built cheaply and without any vernacular context, effectively suburbanize the ALR. There is a great irony in the acceptability of land use types that contradict the intentions of the policy, erode the viability of the agricultural resource and ultimately make the Thin Green Line meaningless. (more…)

View from the Dunsmuir Viaduct
Plan: left - the Grouse Grind, right - the Georgia Grind.
Elevation to distance: left - the Grouse Grind, right - the Georgia Grind.
The georgia grind will be perpetually under construction and always accessible to the public
As seen from South False Creek.
Estimated appearance after 24 months of construction

Tangential Babel

As Vancouver expands eastward, facing established neighborhoods such as Strathcona, Chinatown and Gastown, will it continue it’s pattern of erasing and replacing, or is it possible to consider the existing fabric as something to be built within, around and on top of? Tangential Babel is an argument for a dialog between what was and will be; for an architectural memory that reaches deeper than the notional. It is an earnest folly – a fantastical infrastructure – dubbed fondly as the Georgia Grind, with all the challenge, rivalry and dating potential of the original, conveniently located within the City of Vancouver. (more…)

Peripheral Vancouver

So what else is new?

In my earlier posts, I wanted to observe aspects of the existing legislative system that limit architecture’s agency or at least fail to enhance its relationship to the public good. I wrote about the Tariff’s admission of architecture’s weakness in the face of the economy; that the AIBC’s mandate advocates for protection of the public good, not its advancement; and that the density bonus program operates horizontally within existing class structures as opposed to vertically across them.

Beginning this post, I am left with the feeling. Indeed, so, what else is new? (more…)

Rain Urbanism / Rain Architecture

Animated Publics versus Damp Subjects

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Not a chance, not in Vancouver at least. Of the 36 cities in North America with populations over two million, Vancouver has the most days with measurable precipitation. It rains more of the time here, than anywhere else on the continent. And meteorological data suggests it will get even wetter. Annual rainfall has increased by approximately six inches since 1960 and it’s widely expected that this trend will continue well into the future. Don’t put away the galoshes anytime soon. (more…)

top— RS-1 Character: The intent of this Schedule is generally to maintain the single-family residential character of the RS-1 District bottom— C-3A Character: The intent of this Schedule is to provide for a wide range of goods and services, to maintain commercial activities, specialized services and some light manufacturing enterprises while preserving the character and general amenity of the area and its immediate surroundings
Character Intensity. The widespread accentuation of ‘character,’ with its limiting, image-based definition, contributes to the replication of an economically expedient, derivative urban fabric.

Character Flaw

The definitions section appended to the Vancouver zoning bylaw helpfully illuminates terms such as “family” and “adult magazine,” but fails to define the pervasive term “character,” a term which has an outsize presence in the district schedules and design guidelines, and countless discussions between architects and planners. The fact that there is no explicit definition is on the one hand convenient, and on the other, highly problematic. The lack of definition potentially confers flexibility, though in practice that flexibility tends toward a “consensually” conservative interpretation, foregrounding planners’ (those writing, interpreting, and enacting the code) unquestioned priorities of consistency, legibility, compatibility, and retention. (more…)

Geotagged photographs across the region of both Locals + Tourists.
left: Geotagged photographs attributed to Locals, right: Geotagged photographs attributed to Tourists
Central Vancouver: Locals + tourists geotagged photographs of Vancouver overlaid with approximate neighbourhood outlines and public parks.
Edge vs Centre: Locals + Tourists spend time along the edges of the city
Transit: Transit doesn’t take Locals + Tourists to all the places they like to go.
Landmarks: Tourists + Locals

Image of the City


Vancouverism 2.0 should attempt to reflect the perspective of its citizens. Through mobile photo capture and sharing, Vancouverites and visitors document their perspectives on the city every day. Massive amounts of geo-referenced data are gathered, and the data depicts a unique image of Vancouver. Through this project we have sought to explore geotagged photo data to consider how we can make the best use of this information for improving the planning and design of our city. (more…)

LocalSocial: mobile businesses & services, outdoor open space, power and water supply
As neighbourhoods grow and change, how can design support and enhance the tangible and intangible qualities of place that people have come to value?
Design projects or interventions that support local businesses and expand opportunities for social interaction.
LocalSocial seeks to amply and consolidate existing civic programs, infrastructure and spatial conditions to create micro-hubs of social and economic activity.
Neighbourhood. Street. Block.


In Vancouver, the public discussion around densification and architectural design is often limited to the form and height of proposed new developments. Less attention has been given to understanding what makes a neighborhood feel like a neighbourhood and what creates a connection between people and the place they live. (more…)

Connect with the right people— The person holding the missing piece to you realizing your project’s goals might be sitting beside you.
Share. Search. Connect.


If you ignore the cost of real estate, Vancouver could be a great place to innovate. It’s not a head office town. It is made of a diverse profile of businesses with a median size of four people. It’s a destination for people entering Canada and has an abundance of under-employed immigrant professionals – they earn 20% less than their Canadian-born counterparts. Combine this with a steady supply of eager graduates from the Lower Mainland’s eight universities and it suggests that there is an untapped creative class ready to make new things happen. Unfortunately space to create and collaborate is not easily found here and rent isn’t cheap.

So where can these ideas happen and grow? (more…)