Friday, June 28, 2013

Lovely mid-rise along the River Main

One of the best ways to see a waterfront city is from a boat. I do it at every opportunity. So here are a few more photos of modest, but in my view very attractive old and new mid-rise buildings, as photographed from a river cruise along the Main in central Frankfurt.

I share these photos since as Gordon Price, Brent Toderian and Bob Ransford well know, I am becoming increasingly concerned over the scale of many of the new mid-rise and high-rise buildings in Vancouver. While I'm all in favour of density, especially in the name of sustainability and affordability, I really think we're starting to go way too far. I don't want Vancouver to become Manhattan...or Hong Kong.  I think I want it to be more like a European city that limits the areas where high rise towers are accepted.

I think the scale of the relatively small five to eight storey apartment and commercial buildings along the Main riverfront is delightful. This is what we should be building along Cambie Street and in other redevelopment areas in the city and region.

This is what we might have built in and around the Olympic Village instead of the structures which....to my mind....are too tall to be mid-rise, and too short to be high-rise. The proportion of these buildings is all wrong!

The irony is that at this scale, it is still possible to achieve some very high densities...similar in many instances to what is achieved with a well sited and proportioned high rise. So please take a look at these buildings...knowing that there are many more similar pictures forthcoming, especially from Hamburg where I am now staying and writing.  You're going to be astounded with some of the very innovative newer buildings happening here!

But first, a bit more of Frankfurt's riverfront...






 




3 comments:

Alex said...

First of all, I love Hong Kong. Had the privilege of living there for a year. Not sure why it is a boogeyman now...

Hong Kong has 50 floor towers *everywhere*, even in New Territories. And they regularly go higher.

Vancouver is putting 20 to 30 story towers (higher very rarely) around transit stations. Calling that "Hong Kong" like is crazy hyperbole. Like the people who call a 10 or 20 story tower a "skyscraper".

And until I see an exact comparison, showing how you can fit all the amenities (including ground level retail, if any) and households that are in a 20 story tower onto an area with only a 6 or 8 story building, I won't believe it.

David said...

I was in Hong Kong 28 years ago and it was a vertical city then. I agree with Alex that your Vancouver comparison is inappropriate.

Replacing a 20 storey tower requires multiple smaller buildings spread across a wider area. Instead of a high density node surrounded by angry neighbours in low density housing you spread the load across a much wider area and allow it to happen more slowly so people can adapt.

Moving to a more spread out model requires change to the transportation model. The "rapid transit" model used in Vancouver doesn't work when many potential passengers are located too far from the stations to have the desire to walk there in inclement weather.

You can see a great example of bad planning in action between Royal Oak and Edmonds. It's an auto-centric enclave in the shadow of a multi-billion dollar transit line.

Ironically we had a better model 90 years ago with the combination of streetcars, interurbans and inter-city trains. Each ran on its own right of way with stops spaced appropriately for the average distance travelled.

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