At the end of July, the City of Vancouver accepted proposals for the ideas competition Re:think Housing. Re:think was an ideas competition initiated in order to 'generate a broader discussion of possibilities for Vancouver's affordable housing crisis'.
With this goal in mind, Meta Vancouverism and Vancouver Islands were submitted by Jessie Andjelic, Albert Dijk and Philip Vandermey as grenade projects in response to perceived contradictions within dominant themes of Vancouver urban planning.
Vancouverism - Urbanism by Real Estate Speculation: Canadian master architect Arthur Erickson envisioned large mega structural towers with the intention to build up rather than sprawling out, therefore preserving the city's nature. His ideas have been warped and re-presented as Vancouverism: a flashy combination of slick blue/green/grey towers, low plinths filled with high end walk ups and shops, and protected view corridors to ensure high property values.
Project 01 - Meta Vancouverism
Shimmering glass towers, plentiful green space, an efficient use of land, and expansive views of the natural landscape have pushed the concept of Vancouverism into the international spotlight. In addition to affordability issues, and like many contemporary cities, Vancouver experienced increasing segregation.
The designers have questioned, what if strategically the benefits of Vancouverism are combined with the open spaces and suburbs people love, and the efficient multi-centric urban model already in place? As a result their proposal, Meta Vancouverism, was created.
The plan describes green spaces for pedestrians and dense multifunctional urban corridors could form along the existing transit network. By stretching and dividing Erickson's sketch, a new topographical urban form is created. A graduated density map emerges, one which eases traffic issues, increases density and enhances the multi-centric urban model.
The designers note that a vertically limited topography creates density where it's needed, maintains views, and eases the transition from urban centres and corridors to low density zones. As the city grows, municipal restrictions can respond, allowing the city to expand vertically rather than horizontally.
The resulting density will serve to bring supply in line with demand, cooling the housing market and bringing prices down. Multifunctional towers can provide for a range of programs, and the base design can be coordinated to reclaim transportation spaces for public transit, pedestrians and cyclists.
Project 02 - Vancouver Islands
Vancouver remains consistently at, or near the top of, liveability ranking lists but the very qualities that draw tourists and new residents have limited Vancouver's capacity for spatial growth.
As a result, Vancouver's density is high for North America and the region. The results are mostly positive; spatially constrained cities tend to be more dense and accessible by foot. However Vancouver also has the most expensive housing market in North America.
In the design process it was noted that Vancouver's original boroughs began near the water and expanded inland over time. The result is artificial islands which could provide new space for development directly adjacent to the centre, including affordable housing schemes, while also providing new connections between neighbourhoods.
Such schemes have been proposed and realized in cities with spatial growth constraints around the globe. In fact, Vancouver has already reclaimed space for growth from the sea. Granville Island was formed by adding 760,000 cb m of fill dredged from False Creek.
Sustainable strategies include renewable energy generation and on site waste processing, as well as providing a growth alternative to sprawl, can make Vancouver a world leading innovation city.
Further, the designers have proposed that by relocating port activities from their existing location to optimized shipping islands, 16.7km of coastline around Vancouver Harbour, some of the most expensive real estate in the city, can be reclaimed for housing, clean industries, recreation spaces, educational and cultural institutions.