By Daily Scot.  (Click on title for images.)

One of my favourite neighbourhoods in Victoria is Cook Street Village, a leafy three-block collection of shops, restaurants, services and a pub strung along a bus route.

More a neighbourhood ‘node’ within the larger Fairfield district, Cook Street is a bucolic human-scale streetscape – nestled between Beacon Hill Park, adjacent pre-war bungalows and the Sea.  A magical setting.

Within the village is a development that I am constantly drawn to on each of my visits, a superb example of site planning, scale and program.

I am not aware of the name or history of the collection of buildings located between Sutlej Street and Oliphant Ave, but Google shows the site was redeveloped between 2005 and 2011. (Anyone from Victoria able to provide some insight?)

What stands out is the horizontal scale of the building walls addressing Cook street.  The materials and colours change at each business frontage.


The development is split by a whimsical laneway, with lights strung above and an allee of trees running down its length to the parking beyond.


Site program here is exceptionally strong.  Modestly proportioned condos are located above the shops on the northern two thirds of the site – not above the pharmacy on the southeast corner.  Sunlight spills into the units and the laneway, unencumbered by building mass.


A pharmacy, pizzeria, barber, bakery, café, wine bar, and a grocer- a mix of uses and services with the square footage to match.

The development feeds off the human scale of the adjacent streetscape.  Three mature chestnut trees and a grass median add calming greenery, while the pedestrian environment is enhanced by low vehicular traffic on Cook.  People linger and dine outside.


Hopefully we will see more of this style of small-scale infill in Vancouver.



  1. Hello, Gordon, This development was originally called Essencia Verde and was developed by Max Tomaczewski. of Amadon Developments. I was on Victoria City Council for many years and very involved with planning and heritage restoration and rehabilitation. I, too, think that this is a wonderful development. Unfortunately, the newly adopted guidelines for the Cook Street Village will likely ensure that we never see anything like this again.

    I am attaching a link to a project of Max’s that is currently under construction.

    Warm regards,

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