Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Heritage House Tour

The 2019 self-guided tour offers an exclusive look inside ten historic Vancouver houses across five neighbourhoods and six decades of design, from the 1890s to the 1950s.

The adaptability of older houses and buildings is also a theme on this year’s tour with both historic and recent examples: two heritage homes converted for school use, starting in the 1930s but with recent chapters.

See how a charity utilizes a special historic house that was saved from demolition by community efforts and now offers a welcoming environment. Nearby, a former duplex  converted into a bed & breakfast and venue for same-sex marriages.

Also modern interventions such as a basement suite addition, a concept that has added living space and housing options to Vancouver homes for decades. Another stop will show a sensitive second floor addition on a character bungalow, expanding family accommodation while retaining original features.

Not to be missed design highlights include the Mid-Century Modern masterpiece created by architect Barry Downs in 1959 for his own family and the 1910 Hirschfeld House in handsome Arts and Crafts style.

A pre-tour lecture. The Ever Changing House: A History of Adaptability with historian John Atkin will explore the many ways older homes have been adapted through the decades in Vancouver.

 

Sunday, June 2

10 am – 5 pm

$40 or $30 with valid student ID (not including taxes and postage)

Tickets here or call 604 264 9642

 

Pre-tour Lecture: The Ever Changing House: A History of Adaptability

Monday, May 27th, 7:30 pm – 9pm, $16 or $10 for students and 2019 Heritage House Tour ticket holders

 

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For anyone that knows the Canadian First Lady of Landscape Architecture, 98 year old  Cornelia Oberlander you know that she is a force of nature with a visionary lens that has proven to be right time and time again.

She was advocating for green roofs decades ago, pointing out their ability to lower temperatures, provide greenery and absorb rainwater. She insisted on double rows of street trees as allees fifteen feet apart around the Robson Square Courthouse when it was being built in the 1970’s. She designed the roof top garden of the downtown Vancouver Public Library which is now on everyone’s list as a “go to” public space.

And she is already advocating for the new Jericho Lands 52  acre site to be developed as a complete ecological city, similar to Stockholm Port City or King’s Cross London. 

Sabrina Furminger in the Vancouver Courier   describes the new documentary film “City Dreamers” by filmmaker Joseph Hillel that follows four urban architects: Cornelia Oberlander, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Phyllis Lambert and Denise Scott Brown.

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Michael Alexander sends highlights from the recent Urbanarium discussion, provocatively titled “The Single-Family Zone Is Dead. What Next?”

 

Planner/developer Michael Mortensen gave every audience member a T4 tax receipt with their “income” shown – in proportion to income levels in Metro B.C.

He had the audience stand and, as he read off each income from low to high, those people sat down. At $200,000, the remaining few left standing represented the fewer than eight percent of Vancouverites who could qualify for a single-family home purchase, if they spent 40% of their gross household income on shelter.

If your gross income is $85,000 a year, you can afford a home costing $647,619. A typical Vancouver single family house costs $1.3 million. Double your income, and you’re still priced out.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, member and past Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee, worrisomely noted that while the metro region has an urban containment boundary, “many new councillors haven’t bought in” to the concept. He said that councillors in neighbouring Port Moody recently disapproved a 400-unit townhouse project next to a transit station. 

(Port Moody isn’t alone. The District of West Vancouver voted down, 5-2, affordable housing and a senior daycare centre on city-owned land, and essentially gave the planning decision back to the land’s neighbours.)

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Fifty-two years ago today Expo 67 opened on two man-made islands in Montreal. The 20th century was about World’s Fairs, and this fair with the theme “Man and His World” attracted fifty million visits in its six month run. At the time Canada’s population was only 20 million people.

Several notable buildings were constructed including Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao’s geodesic dome for the United States pavilion, and Moshe Safdie’s iconic “Habitat” as an example of prefabricated concrete dwelling construction.

Visitors had “passports” and obtained stamps at various pavilions. In many ways this event put Canada on the international map. The legacies of the Fair were classic 20th century achievements that included transportation infrastructure:  Montreal’s Decarie autoroute was built, as well as the Hippolyte-Lafontaine bridge and tunnel.

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In principle, the idea of infill in already built-out neighbourhoods is seen to be a good one, especially to broaden the choice of options.  At the community planning stage, there’s general acceptance.

Reality is tougher.  Two prominent cases for apartments on parking lots have received a lot of pushback – in the case of the Delbrook proposal in North Van District, council rejection; in the case of the Larch Street proposal in Kitsilano, considerable neighbourhood opposition.

Even in the West End, one neighbourhood you’d expect would welcome infill, the dilemma of scale and relationship to the existing fabric becomes apparent in these two examples.  The first – around five storeys, about the same as those examples mentioned above – was submitted almost immediately after the approval of the West End Community Plan in 2013 – a proposal for a rear parking lot at Cardero and Comox, as reported in PriceTags in 2014.  The comments detail the complaints.

Nonetheless, it is now under construction:

 

The other, a half block away, at 1685 Nelson, is considerably different in scale – actually an extension of to a heritage-quality house – but also meeting resistance.

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YouTuber Michael Beach (not the actor, but about whom not much is searchable) came up with a simple but effective idea: urban analysis using maps – the maps we actually use these days: Google Earth and Streetview.

With the seamless use of video, illustration and a lot of research, he takes us on computer-aided visits to cities around the would, and provides sometimes insightful, sometimes scathing analyses of urban places.  His YouTube home page is here.

His views are, of course, personal and in some cases overly simplistic, given he’s never been to many of the places his mouse hovers over – but he’s never boring, even if his voice sometimes seems like an over-caffeinated Thomas the Tank.

Here’s the example an urban environment closest to us: North York in Toronto.  This one, literally focusing on the transit corridor along Yonge Street, will both terrify and assure those who wonder what could happen along the Broadway corridor with the arrival of SkyTrain.

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From Marilyn Rummel (via Tim Pawsey):

This has knocked me off my feet. A video from Paris compiled from footage shot from 1896 – 1900 by the Lumiere brothers who were by and large the inventors of the moving picture (and their last names WERE Lumiere!)

A Canadian, Guy Jones, has made it his mission to restore old bits of footage he has found. Superb!! And of course he has plenty more besides this one, but I can’t imagine anything topping it.

 

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