The newly launched Urbanarium society (this is the third go-round) began with a double splash last night – the first in its debate series and the opening of “Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver” at the Museum of Vancouver.

Here’s the first reaction we received to the debate – “Open all Neighbourhoods to Densification” – as an ‘Item from Ian’:

The notion of density described at last night’s debate was one in which it was simultaneously described as panacea and pariah, the evil promised-land of those young who can’t afford anything else, and those downsizing who don’t want to.

Density was described as something to do ‘over there’ because it’s just as good to live separate but equal lives, preserving single-family land in amber while those undeserving squeeze into boxy ghettos clinging to the sky.

It was described as the nightmare of political weakness – that it is impossible to impose it on to too many people lest they unleash their fangs in unison.  It’s an unwanted friend for fashionable political parties.  In this case it’s better to tiptoe into the suburban hereafter, and not ask for too much, not be too uppity. Unlike voting rights, or civil rights, housing is a right in which to be happy when a little group can have a lot, and a lot can have a little.

In nature, there are no monocultures; there are ecosystems. Anything appearing different in a monoculture might seem at superficial glance to be a weed, when it’s actually providing the needed genetic diversity to keep the whole population healthy. Vancouver has a plantation’s worth of single-family houses, and a corresponding number of plantation massa’s who increasingly know how to say NO.

Who will be the brave soul who realizes the inevitability of infrastructural evolution, and starts becoming open to saying YES to MORE?

A lot of PT readers were in the audience.  Add your comments below, and we’ll pull out those deserving extra attention as separate posts.


The next debate at UBC Robson Square will be on February 3 – “Build Fewer Towers”.  (Tickets available at the Urbanarium site beginning Thursday, January 21 at noon.)

Is Vancouver and its region too quick or too slow to build towers? Are they good or bad for livability and green aims? Are towers the future or past their prime?

Coincidentally, Ray Spaxman (appropriately the chap who conceived of the idea of the Urbanarium back in the 1980s) sends along a related link:

A friend sent this to me and the associated TED talk – an enormously stimulating talk by architect Ole Scheeren.
oLE 1
Some of you may remember the architectural survey we all voted on many months ago (Urbanarm, June 22, 2014).  One of Ole’s buildings was featured in that – and worried many of us. Yet, because it seems we will have to contemplate a number of alternative ways of accommodating ever-rising densities, we must engage with Ole’s arguments. His narrative is a wonderfully intellectual exercise that you will all “enjoy”.
It is a discussion that our community must have.

There is a proposed Scheeren building for 1500 West Georgia – the so-called ‘Jenga’ tower:

And here’s a Price Tags post of Ray Spaxman’s reaction to the building back in June: “Vitruvius on West Georgia” – with lots of comments, suggesting both that this tower will be part of the debate in February, accompanied by lots more reaction, only this time with a vote on the larger proposition.