Recreating Space: Vancouver And The Viaducts

  • Many cities, especially those in North America, continue to struggle with the legacy of massive freeway systems. While Vancouver was largely able to resist major freeway development during the 1960s and 1970s, a couple of intermittent elements of the freeway vision remain in the city, including the Granville Street Bridge (which Bjarke Ingels’s new tower proposal hopes to re-envision) and the Georgia + Dunsmuir Viaducts in False Creek. The viaducts have been a major topic of debate in the city for years considering the controversy surrounding their construction, but only now are serious proposals coming close to reality.

    The City of Vancouver recently had a design competition and is now hosting open houses to debate the future of a large underused plot of land right next to Downtown and Gastown. A slideshow put together by the city’s planning and engineering departments shows great potential to Vancouverise the area: green space, mixed-use developments, and cycling infrastructure are all part of the plan to transform an urban wasteland into a useable public space.

    But what of the plans, anyway? They look pretty, and they’ll increase density in the core of the city, which is part of Vancouver’s planning strategy, but there doesn’t seem to be much consideration for temporary spaces and temporary space usage. The food cart culture in Vancouver is flourishing, while public spaces and artwork on temporary pedestrian zones were a big hit last summer (not to mention Car Free Day!). With all these initiatives happening all over the city, it seems that the continuing development of False Creek needs to recognise the importance of temporary urbanism in creating a lively neighbourhood.