By Matt Hern

An unapologetic safety of urban existence in a time of environmental crisis.

summary: An unapologetic security of urban lifestyles in a time of environmental predicament

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Extra info for Common ground in a liquid city : essays in defense of an urban future

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But there is a sterile, manufactured quality to the density that I am calling into question, and I think it reflects the quality of civic engagement and participation that Vancouver has nurtured. Part of what I am poking at is the actual form. Glassy towers are just not a big part of my vision of convivial city life, for all the obvious reasons, some of them aesthetic, some practical. And they are not at all necessary for a dense city. ” Towers give you a peculiar kind of density, and not necessarily a convivial one.

The height limits are part of trying to protect sightlines both within and below the high-rises of the surrounding ocean and mountains. Those guidelines allow special sites to exceed the guidelines to add some diversity, but the desire to maintain the views has kept the heights down, even while the actual buildings multiply like bunnies. ” Vancouver’s now-celebrated urbanism is built around the idea of convincing people to move in from the suburbs, to stop sprawling, and to come live on the downtown peninsula.

It’s true, although those skyscrapers don’t really scrape all that much of the sky. The city is considered to have a “mid-rise” skyline and most big buildings in the downtown only have a height of around 90 to 130 meters (295 to 426 feet), with the highest being the newly complete Shangri-La21 at 197 meters (646 feet) tall or sixty-one stories. In large part, these subdued heights are a product of strict guidelines that maintain view corridors in the downtown. The height limits are part of trying to protect sightlines both within and below the high-rises of the surrounding ocean and mountains.

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