Small Solution to Pricey Real Estate

Brendan Purdy, Akua Schatz and their newborn baby boy enjoy city life on a smaller scale.Doug Shanks photo Having a home that meets your needs but doesn’t consume all of your resources is a way to step back and enjoy life more. “It’s a small space but, for us, that’s a benefit,” says Schatz. “We think more about what we bring in, we spend more time outside.” This young couple, who recently became new parents, live in the Dunbar neighbourhood of Vancouver, BC in a laneway loft house. In this article on WE they talk about living large in a small space and explain how laneway housing can be a solution for a young families who wish to live in high-priced downtown Vancouver. View the floor plans for Brendon and Akua's 500 sq. ft. laneway loft.

Intimacy and the Public “Place”

If you browse the internet for information on Placemaking you are bound to stumble upon a multitude of references to outstanding public places, big and small, well-known and not, some highly intentioned, a few accidental: – intimate old town squares like Montreal’s Square St. Louis with its imposing 19th century homes – storied markets like Toronto’s Kensington intended as a large estate home development but divided into smaller plots to house Toronto’s new immigrants in the ’20’s – parks like Vancouver’s Stanley Park “created” a mere two years after the city’s first street lights were turned on Plus a few not so outstanding ones like Toronto’s waterfront, cut off visually and psychologically from the rest of the city by roads and high-rise condos as opposed to Chicago’s waterfront, the result of a renewal project engendered by Mayor Daly’s dream to see people fish and grill their catch on the river’s shore. The history of each one and every one of these urban spaces and its journey, successful or not, to becoming a “place” is fascinating and much can be learned from those journeys, failed as well as successful. But, in the end what we all [...]

By | 2016-11-15T09:05:57+00:00 July 12th, 2012|Ideas on Living "Large" Urban-Style|

Placemaking and Sense of Place

Consider for a moment the difference—if there is one—between “Placemaking” and “sense of place.” Placemaking, even if put into the clearest of urban planning terms, can mean many different things, but for now, let’s consider the simplest possible definition: “…public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.” However, dive unprotected into even the shallow end of official Placemaking, and you may be overwhelmed by terminology, about both the process as well as the philosophy, but never mind, in the end it is all about intentionally transforming existent and newly created public spaces into public places. Space into Place. Placemaking. I think this is what we all attempt to do the moment we occupy any “space” for more than a day. Confess. You’ve picked up flowers at a corner convenience or nabbed them out of an unseen corner of someone’s garden to fill the ubiquitous paper wrapped glass in your hotel room. Right? Space into Place—a punter’s definition. Possibly.  […]

By | 2016-11-15T09:05:57+00:00 June 29th, 2012|Ideas on Living "Large" Urban-Style|

Modest Outside / Modern Inside

Sustainability in new home construction is often referenced with respect to advances in building science, technological  fixes and the next newest thing.  But the area of sustainability that most interests me involves a more simple approach: that modesty in all things – but especially buildings – results in a much more balanced, simple and successful quality of life. Exterior of our "Arbutus" model It was this concept that led me to the idea of providing smaller single-family homes within an urban environment.  Having traveled in my youth to cities in Europe and South America, I was impressed by the presence of small, elegant homes that, despite their size, met the needs of individuals and families and helped to foster strong neighborhoods. Often set amongst green leafy streets, or surrounding small city squares, these row houses and small houses fostered a strong sense of conviviality and community amongst their inhabitants.  It was this template that inspired me in 2007 to begin advocating for small infill homes at the rear  of existing lots. The aspect of affordability is pertinent here.  A common complaint often heard in Vancouver is that young Vancouverites are no longer able to afford to own a house [...]