August 18, 2006

Barrie Mowatt's comparison

Barrie is the driving force behind the Sculpture Biennale detailed in Price Tags 86 – http://pricetags.ca/pricetags/pricetags86.pdf (Click and take the tour.)
He’s just back from Northern Europe, with an interesting observation on Vancouver:

Just returned from Scandinavia, Baltics and Russia.  Very impressed and surprised at how beautiful Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, etc are.  Amazing parks, waterways, walking and bike paths.
What I discovered most is much what you have said in Price Tags 87.  Vancouver has nowhere for people to gather and ‘party’ or ‘protest’.  WE have no inner-city squares where people walk through or can congregate … probabaly afraid they will become gathering places for the unwashed, etc. Hence our parks are primarily along the water’s edge, on the edge of the city.  No room for congregating … only passing by!

I wonder if the design to design-out public-squares like you find in every European and South American Capital was intentional !
It would be nice in the newer areas of the city that are being developed to create public parks/squares and to build amenities and living accommodation around them so that people have to criss-cross through them to get from a to b and in better weather actually congregate … ike Place des Vosges in Paris, the park in Riga between the Embassy district and old town, or the large plazas in reconstructed Vilnius.

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  1. The prospect of a new soccer stadium at Waterfront raises the bigger planning scenario of how to rethink that portion of Vancouver via using air rights to build over the railroad tracks.
    This would be such a great opportunity to create the vibrant public space many urbanists have called for — and provide connectivity between the DTES and the water, and connect the pedestrian and bike paths from Canada Place along the waterfront to the Carrall St Greenway.
    I’d add in rethinking the seabus terminal, redeveloping it into a more coherent waterfront amenity, with additional services to Port Moody, Deep Cove, Ambleside, maybe even Richmond. Think Sydney harbour as the model for a waterside redevelopment that includes public realm improvements, better transit connectivity, and entertainment.
    Rather than look at the stadium in isolation, perhaps the Whitecaps should be invited to put all the air rights they have acquired on the table (all the way to Main St) so that some medium rise buildings could also be built to provide the economic offset for all of this great stuff and for the improvements that are going to be required for a stadium to be approved.

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