Stephen Rees, as usual, does an excellent and comprehensive summary of the presentation by two Auckland urban designers, Gavin Lister and David Urban, from the design company Isthmus. They described two projects, the more suburban Hobsonville Point, and the intriguingly urban Vinegar Lane.
The latter, in particular, offers some lessons for Vancouver.
A former vinegar factory in Auckland was demolished, in preparation for redevelopment as a mall with four levels of underground parking. The developer went bust in 2008 leaving a huge hole to be filled. Isthmus is proposing to build a new subdivision based on fee simple ownership and 100% lot coverage.
The edges of the site will have commercial development with a new 12m lane (“Vinegar Lane”) to provide access to the interior residential lots. These will vary in size and individual owners will have the ability to construct what they want with the design parameters of lot coverage and height.
Current permitting is based on FAR2 but they intend to ask for FAR4. A lot of mixed use is expected with a wide range of potential outcomes. This presents a challenge for the conventional planning, as usually permits are not issued until a complete design is presented.
While Vancouver offers many examples of densification, there is a similarity, now somewhat dated, in the architectural design, from Whistler to White Rock. Vinegar Lane, if it proceeds as proposed, offers a way to introduce serendipity and individualism into a comprehensively planned project integrated into the historic streetcar fabric of a densifying city.