Help Define ‘Vancouverism’

September 1, 2009 at 11:52 am 1 comment

Andrew Pask of the Vancouver Public Space Network writes:

I’m currently working on a story for the Vancouver Public Space Network’s bi-monthly publication.  The subject is “Vancouverism” – a key term from the city’s urban design lexicon.  

Although there are already ‘formal’ definitions in place – not to mention a Wikipedia entry, we’d like to see if we can expand this a little bit.  What does Vancouverism mean to you?  What is meant by this transformation  of our city into a descriptor like this?  What should the definition of Vancouverism” include?  What, if anything, is in danger of being overlooked or overemphasized?

Here’s what Gord Price, the Director of the City Program, contributed:

Vancouverism evolved from necessity: the need to make density livable, and to provide tansportation choices once it was clear the city would not accommodate ‘Motordom’ – the auto-dominant urban planning that characterized most of the 20th century. 

Vancouverism took the constraints and advantages of our geography, which on one hand constrained us and, on the other, offered abundant access to the waterfront, and then added a very high quality of urban design.  (Not the same thing as great architecture.  The repeated use of generic forms such as the point-and-podium tower creates a certain sameness in the city.) 

We went up rather than out; we mixed uses rather than separated functions; we priorized pedestrians, cyclists and transit users; we required growth to help pay for growth; and we took advantage of the amenities and the views that added value to both real estate and public space.  It is this blend of livable density and high-quality public space that makes Vancouver and its ‘ism’ so remarkable.

Our geography may have set the stage.  But the actors still needed direction – and we were fortunate to have a generation of leaders and designers who made mostly right choices.

If you’re interested in contributing to this definition, send your your comments directly to Andrew at info@vancouverpublicspace.caHe’ll publish the best of the responses in the next newsletter.  Submissions need to be in by Friday, September 4.




Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Peter Smith  |  September 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    as an out-of-towner, i’d suggest doing something to fix vancouver before settling on a definition of ‘vancouverism’. either that, or basically lie — create a definition for what you want vancouverism to be, rather than what it is.


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