Four storey mixed-use in Abbotsford, BC.
(Nice form: shame about the stroad.)
"What is the difference between an architect and an engineer?"
"The deuce! You ask me a question difficult to answer. Let me give you an apologue.
Once upon a time there was a pair of little twins, who were so much alike that their mother could not tell them apart. They had not only the same features, height, walk, but also the same tastes and habits. It was necessary for them to work, for their parents were poor. Both became masons. They grew skilful, and what they did was done equally well by both.
The father, who was narrow-minded, thought that these four hands, which labored at the same work with equal skill, would produce more and better if the work were divided into two pairs of hands. He said, then, to one of them, ‘You will only work underground ‘; and to the other,’ You will only work above ground.’ The brothers thought there was little sense in this, as they helped each other in the one case as well as in the other; but, being submissive sons, they obeyed.
Still, these workmen, who, up to this time, had agreed, and made mutual efforts in perfecting their work, did not cease from quarrelling from that time. He who worked above the cellars complained that the foundations were not properly cemented, and he who established the foundations said that account was not taken of the conditions of their structure. They finally separated, and each, having become accustomed to the specialty which had been imposed upon him, remained unfit for anything else.”
"I think I understand your apologue; but —"
"But it does not explain to you why a distinction is made between an architect and an engineer. In fact, a good engineer can be a good architect, and vice versa. Engineers make bridges, canals, port works, and so on; but this does not prevent their building lighthouses, shops, factories, and other constructions. Architects should know how to do all these things; they formerly did so, because then the twin brothers were not separated, or rather they were one and the same person. But since this single individuality has been divided, the two halves go each his way.
If the engineers build a bridge, the architects say that it is very ugly, and they are not always wrong. If the architects raise a palace, the engineers exclaim, not without reason, that the materials have been unskilfully employed, without economy, or an exact knowledge of their durable and resisting properties.”
"But why do engineers build bridges which the architects think ugly?"
"Because the question of art has been separated from that of science and calculation by this narrow-minded father, who thought that both could not be held in the same brain.
The architects have been told, ‘You shall be artists: see nothing but form, and busy yourselves only with that.’ The engineers have been told, ‘You will only occupy yourselves with science; you have nothing to do with form: leave that to the artists who dream with their eyes, and are not capable of reasoning.’
This seems strange, I see, to your youthful mind. It is all simply absurd, because the art of architecture is only the consequence of the art of construction; that is, of employing materials according to their qualities or properties, and because the forms of architecture are notoriously derived from this. But, my young friend, as you grow older you will see many other things in our poor country, hampered as it is by routine.”
Abbotsford is currently undergoing a comprehensive Zoning Bylaw update which will:
That last bullet is specifically for Abbotsford to be “a liveable, sustainable and prosperous City in the Country” which sounds a lot like Howard’s garden cities. I wonder if the city’s planners and consultants (Urban Systems) might refer to DPZ’s recent revival of the idea (and in particular learn lessons from the analysis of English new towns at the end) or look at other entrants to the Wolfson Prize.
Overall, the new zoning plan so far seems static and anti-growth, and overly concerned with some details (parking, uses) while ignoring other more important ones (form/massing, frontage/semi-public space). It’s not at all clear to me how separating perfectly compatible uses and mandating car space contributes to liveable, sustainable, prosperous city.
Some sample pages from the byzantine proposal follow.
Proposed new development on a nine acre brownfield site in north London.
In fact, this is a ‘grass roots’ proposal. The actual developer proposal appears to have little interest in placemaking. Click on the other images for comparison plans.
Here are some ways that Formr (Lilac/Stoop/Streetmix3D) would mitigate against the bad proposed design:
The city plans to uncover a stretch of buried river on the 6-acre site, which includes 19 city-owned parcels and a firehouse building to be preserved.
The Chicken Island site was to be the centerpiece of an ambitious downtown and waterfront redevelopment plan called River Park Center. Opposed by many residents at City Council hearings, the River Park Plan included high-rise residential towers, and a sports stadium that planners hoped would attract a minor league baseball team to Yonkers. The River Park Center project, though later reduced in scope, never got off the ground as credit markets froze in 2008 and the economic downturn sidelined developers across the country.
Here are some historic pics of the area, that show the river and previous buildings.
Hope they get something good.
New York’s adoption of a zoning code triggered a frenzy of activity in cities large and small. The landowning public clamored for separation of land uses, and developers of restricted communities joined in the call for government control.
Machine politicians joined municipal reformers in the embrace of zoning—it was easy to see that variances, exceptions, and rezonings would open up a cornucopia of patronage and graft.
By 1920 zoning ordinances were in place in 904 cities, including 82 of the 93 municipalities with populations over 100,000. Given further encouragement by a model ordinance issued by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in 1924, a wave of regulation rolled on through the decade.
Site planning procedure. This applies to both brownfield sprawl repair and greenfield. Green and blue are what you put on the plan, red are the guidelines and nudges.
I think much less than this risks being unpleasant. And much more risks over-specifying. What do you think?
This is how I think sprawl repair planning (and normal neighborhood planning) should start.
Contours (and other natural features like large trees and water) and sun should define the orientation of streets and the placement of neighborhood centres. Earth-moving should be minimised.
Existing buildings - whether a barn or a well or a fence in an urbanising rural neighorhood; or a dead mall in sprawl repair - should be marked out and incorporated. Demolition should be minimised.
I don’t know whether there are free contour maps of the world available. For the building data, you can use OSM Buildings and add to their data set. (This clearly isn’t sprawl, but Vanmap is the only data I have available to illustrate the point.)
There’s nothing inherently anti-urban about modernism, nor anything inherently traditionalist about form-based coding or new urbanism.
Place des Conquêtes was laid out in 1699, renamed Place Louis-le-Grand when the conquests didn’t last, Place des Piques during the revolution, and then Place Vendôme.
Originally a sort of palace on the edge of town (see all the wind farms begriming the pastoral views behind).
Then fully subsumed into the growing (sprawling? but not dispersed) metropolis:
Not forgetting the obligatory parking lot phase in the late lunacy of the 1960s.
Galina calls it an early example of a Liner Building, a sprawl repair technique that allows for quick-start spacial definition by facades, with structures behind following later.
Lilac (“the Streetmix of site planning!”) is built with this in mind. Users place streets and squares, which are spatially defined by their surrounding transect-zoned built areas.
Here are some examples of Liner Buildings used in sprawl repair.
This one is a proposed greenfield development: