Thursday, April 19, 2012

Maybe the Dutch aren't so crazy after all!



As I wandered around the latest 'Self-build' developments in Almere, I couldn't help but be a bit astounded that government planners would allow people to build whatever they wanted in terms of design, as long as certain fire and safety codes were met. I worried that the 'hodge-podge' of houses would look odd years from now.

But in reviewing some wonderful photos provided by the Amsterdam city communications office, I realized that the 17th century streetsapes we so admire around the country are essentially the same thing...people doing their own thing on narrow lots, side by side, without spaces between the buildings.Admittedly, the level of detail was much more elaborate compared to what it is today; but the concept is the same.

I share this because I think the time has come for cities like Vancouver to start to encourage new more urbain 'zero-lot line' developments on narrow lots, without any wasteful side yards. While the streetscapes might look a bit odd in the beginning, with gaps between the buildings, over time some very attractive streetscapes could result.

This is what we do along commercial streets. Maybe it's time to do the same along residential streets.

Just a thought....

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