Monday, September 07, 2009

Visiting Vancouver 5 - a very Shanghai feel 1

Well, I finally have my Vancouver photos back. It is now just over two months since I returned. Inevitably the sharp images that I had at the start of this series have blurred.

Looking at the photos I was reminded of an odd thing. Vancouver reminded me of Shanghai! This may sound an odd thVancouver skyscrapeing to say, but let me explain.

In recent years, downtown Vancouver has been rebuilt. This re-building includes concentrations of tall apartment blocks. Many of these date from the same period as Shanghai building and have a similar visual feel. Tall, but also relatively narrow.

This photo, taken from the balcony of cousin Cyril's flat, will give you a first feel.

Now Sydney has many tall apartment buildings, but their feel is different. It's hard to explain, but they are more crowded, chunkier.

One of the key distinctions between Sydney and Vancouver lies in the mix of high and lower rise.

In central Sydney, the CBD has become a fairly cold place in which the tall buildings crowd out the light. If you go to the developments ringing the city, you get lower buildings but still grouped in big blocks of common height. Zoning rules actually dictate this. Vancouver streetscape

Vancouver is different. The population density may well be higher, but the zoning rules here require a height mix. This means that the high rise is taller and thinner, but is also broken up with much lower buildings.

You can see this clearly in this photo taken in one of the more recent developments.

The three high rises in the photo are clearly separated and also face slightly different directions. This preserves views and allows light to penetrate.

Visual appeal is enhanced, as is livability.

Vancouver is not a big city compared to Sydney or Melbourne. As of July 2009, the city's estimated population was 615,473 and that of the metropolitan area, 2,318,200. You can see this in the downtown - it's actually quite small.

At the same time, I understand that the re-building of central Vancouver has transformed the city. This is modern metro living. People have been brought back to the inner city.

I think that Australian cities could learn from Vancouver. High rise is not necessarily bad. It's how you do it that counts.

A full list of posts in the visiting Vancouver series can be found here.

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