Vancouverism@30

30 years of Vancouverism—or building towers-and-skytrain—have delivered a 2,245% inflation in the cost of housing, threatening the survival of the middle class in Vancouver and democracy in Canada.

false-creek-towers

North Shore False Creek—The view of the mountains blocked

Vancouverism—the tower-and-podium architecture that began building post-Expo ’86—boils down to just two essential parts: Towers-and-Skytrain. The towers block the sky and the view of the mountains and stop the sun from reaching the city street and sidewalks. This in a place where skies are either overcast, or raining 60% of the time. Nobody wants that. The Skytrain blights the neighborhoods it crosses preserving an unencumbered ground plane for automobiles. People want the public realm to support social functioning as well as traffic, not just one or the other. The Vancouverism doesn’t give much consideration to the human experience of place, or what should be understood to be the quality of the urbanism. Vancouverism’s gigantic land parcel assemblies obliterate human scale. There is no ‘there’ there. No legible hierarchy of street, block, district and neighborhood. The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts simply because the parts are just too big. The gigantism of the tower-and-podium typology is too large to be apprehended by our human senses. The images of the Vancouverism are all made from high up and far away using our glorious mountains as backdrop. Up close there is nothing to see. Unit is piled upon unit, piled high one upon the other, creating a seamless and seemingly endless monotony of place.

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON ‘GOOD’ URBANISM IN NORTH AMERICA

Continue reading “Vancouverism@30”

The sunset of coal and oil, and the rise of energy self-sufficiency in urbanism

 

The greatest convergence in technological innovations for curbing energy demand, managing environmental pollution, and reducing carbon emissions, is taking place inside the urban footprint. New technologies available today make eliminating carbon emissions from transportation and energy generation the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in the push to clean the environment. In turn, positive results found in the places we call home present as new opportunities in the workplace, and in industries like forestry and mining.

Electric cars; 83% efficient LED-lighting; smart electric grids; wind and solar energy generation; these are combining with new building technologies for human-scale architecture; affordable housing; livable streets; walkable neighbourhoods; commuter rail transit and urban rooms to achieve what was once thought impossible. Canada and the U.S. will achieve energy self-sufficiency within our lifetime, raising the social functioning of our communities while adding value to our economies.

Similar developments underway in other areas of the globe are promising dramatic results in the hot-spots of geopolitical friction, including: the Middle East, the South China Sea, and the OPEC nations.

Continue reading “The sunset of coal and oil, and the rise of energy self-sufficiency in urbanism”

Look Up—Way Up!

LookUp-8

Architecture that oppresses the human spirit and curtails social freedom can look beautiful in pictures. Go figure! Hong Kong photographer Andy Yeung has created a series of images taken from the ground looking up—waaaay up! Yet, his photos document an architecture denying principles of human scale thriving since the times of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Continue reading “Look Up—Way Up!”

Financial Markets Peak

S&P

S & P 500 – Five Year Performance (Bloomberg)

As we approach the Lunar New Year festivities in China all the major western indices are drawing the same picture: it looks like a mountain top. As events unfold China contagion is the only explanation for why the western markets should be trending downward as they anticipate a hard landing in China.

Continue reading “Financial Markets Peak”

China Ripples Again

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 6.59.21 AM.png

North Korean Video Still — Kim Jong-un watching ballistic missile test December 2015

On cue, one week ahead of expiry on China’s 6-month freeze on large share holders selling their stock, the markets crashed twice. Stocks in China fell in the first week of 2016 for a combined loss of 24% and have remained volatile through the rest of January. After the crash last August, when the markets steadied in response to government prohibitions on trading, the rest of us were left counting to six—January 2016 was the ‘next’ possible date for a market crisis in China. Continue reading “China Ripples Again”

2016: The Future is C-O-O-L

Pasted Graphic 6.png

Mt. Reinier, Washington. LNV 2015

Today 82% of man-made Green House Gases (GHGs) originate from CO2 released by burning oil, coal and natural gas. More than half of the ‘dirty fuels’ are used to power transportation and generate electricity. Although we have the technology to switch to clean and renewable fuels, we lack the  ideological, political and economic will to clean the mess of GHGs once and for all. Continue reading “2016: The Future is C-O-O-L”