September 19, 2018

Architecture of the Temporary

This housing complex being erected by the City on Larwill Park (presumed site of the new Art Gallery and office tower) will, with 98 units, be the largest modular housing for the homeless so far.  (More here.)

Modular housing is coming of age.  With no pretense of being architecturally significant, it nonetheless fits in, especially among the residential towers that typify the style of our time.  Indeed, it’s a good example of the importance of the ‘missing middle’ – low- and medium-rise development that offers a horizontal relief to the excesses of the vertical city.  More importantly, it provides a place for people whose only alternative is the street itself.


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Having gone through the greatest economic expansion in human history, Chinese cities have expressed that transition in their skylines – an undisguised statement to the West that ‘we can do it bigger and better.’  ‘Better’ is subjective, ‘bigger’ not so much.

Quora contributor Martin Andrews assembled contemporary photos of China’s Tier 1 cities in his answer to the inquiry: “What are Chinese cities like compared to western cities?” He begins with shots of Vancouver as an example of what impresses him about western cities, and then notes: “Vancouver has a metro population of 2.4 million and there are 64 Chinese cities with a population greater than one million that really puts things into perspective.”

Here are just a few of the skylines that, I expect, most of us will find totally unfamiliar.

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Georgie nominated and Ovation awarded Smallworks is looking for an additional designer at    The successful applicant will work in a customer focused, dynamic work environment, which manages small-scale but complex residential design-build projects in Vancouver.

The expectation for a successful candidate is to have the ability to carry the normal work load of a designer while providing on going  participation in  improving building system, design, and  complement the knowledge resource for the design team. The designer works alongside two colleagues, each with their own set of clients. On average, the company takes on two new clients and two – three build projects per month.

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Michael Kluckner sends in the winner of this year’s Carbuncle Cup via The Guardian:

A leisure complex in Stockport town centre has been voted Britain’s worst new building after judges scorned it as a “sad metaphor for our failing high streets”.

The warehouse-like buildings of Redrock Stockport beat five other shortlisted candidates to win the Carbuncle Cup, awarded by Building Design to what its readers deem to be the biggest architectural eyesore of the past year.

Judges were left unimpressed by the “awkward form, disjointed massing and superficial decoration”, while readers called it an “absolute monstrosity”.

The £45m development, which opened in November 2017 as part of a wider regeneration project, features a cinema, restaurants and bars and was designed by BDP, the architectural firm formerly known as Building Design Partnership, which is currently working on the £4bn makeover of the Houses of Parliament.

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John Atkin lives in the architectural and heritage weeds.  As an historian and city insider, he knows the details on how this city has changed.  Here, for instance, is an excerpt by John (with Elana Zysblat, James Burton and Denise Cook) from the West End Heritage Context Statement for the West End plan. 

This section provides a summary of zoning changes in the West End as new forms of development emerged, particularly the highrise tower, and how the city planners both encouraged and responded to redevelopment.  (I’ve added the illustrations.)

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Another Metrotown tower to highlight – for its highlighting.  Glass panels in translucent blues and greens seem to be there for decorative effect, and are used even more effectively on the townhouses below:

Simple and effective.

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