There has been a lot of discussion about housing density and what higher density can look like without going to the high-rise tower form.  On CBC Radio and in a lecture at Simon Fraser University local architect and adjunct professor  Michael Geller speaks directly-it’s time for Vancouver to get unstuck from the high-rise model, while providing more  supportable scale and rhythm to the street.

“When you put a high-rise on a major street next to a single-family house — like Venables and Commercial where the rest of the development is three or four storey scale — I think people are uncomfortable with the juxtaposition…Instead Vancouver should build more mid-rise buildings, and make better use of lots by building homes closer together and to the end of the lot lines.”

Vancouver has locked onto the high-rise model, which is more  lucrative to build and efficient. Michael Geller suggests we look to Amsterdam for guidance, where most of the city’s new apartments are lower than ten storeys.  Michael cites the floating rowhouses of IJburg just east of Amsterdam which have higher densities than traditional floating homes, and also the Aarhus Harbour Apartments in Denmark, which takes advantage of light and views for each unit. Calling this the middle ground between single-family and high-rise towers, Michael suggests that this form could be accepted and achieved across the city.


“You are going to see more of these buildings being built because they’re going to be built in locations where you can’t get approval to build high-rises given current community attitudes.”