'Vancouverism' lauded at London architecture festival
What in the sam hill is Vancouverism, you're asking.
Vancouver's city planning philosophy is such a hit with architects they've come up with a new name for it. Apparently we're good at building a dense city that spreads the wealth of high-altitude views.
The 2008 London Festival of Architecture will showcase the visionary Vancouverism of prominent architects like Arthur Erickson and Bing Thom.
While we're at it, consider this a call to NowPublic's Vancouverites to submit photos of your favourite city architecture. Or, if you prefer, what are the buildings you'd like to blow up?
London is to get a dose of Vancouverism as an exhibition dedicated to the B.C. city's unique architecture opens at the Festival of Architecture on Tuesday.
Vancouverism — West Coast Architecture and City Building celebrates the work of Arthur Erickson, the Canadian architect known for his modernist structures, and his accolytes.
Vancouverism describes the practice of designing higher, thinner towers to provide so-called "view corridors" while still accommodating as large a population as possible.
Erickson first sketched out the idea more than half a century ago, says architecture critic and curator Trevor Boddy.
"Arthur with his chutzpah, as an ambitious architecture prof at [University of British Columbia], did this amazing design for the Community Arts Council," Boddy told CBC News.
"It was called Project 56. This sketch showed a 50-, 60-, 70-storey soaring downtown and West End Vancouver. It was a sketch literally a half-century ahead of itself. In my view, that sketch by Arthur Erickson invents the idea of Vancouverism."
The 2008 London Festival of Architecture is a month-long festival focusing attention on buildings and streetscapes, and featuring work by architects such as Daniel Liebskind, Cesar Pelli and Rem Koolhaus.
The Vancouverism exhibition is scheduled for Paris this fall, and then will be shown in other parts of Europe and Asia. It could return to Vancouver for the Olympics in January and February 2010.
Over the past 18 months, I have heard American architects and city planners use a new word when they promote the notion of a high-residential density, high-public amenity central city. They call it “Vancouverism.” Our city has also become a verb, and the coinage of our recent urbanism is now in wide international circulation, from local developers “Vancouverizing” Dallas and San Diego to the bizarre simulation of our town in Dubai’s “Very False Creek.”
Canada’s largest city never generated “Torontism.” Not during the media-stroking of the mayor Crombie-era “City that works,” not in the 1990s, when the colonial notion of the “World Class” caught out Torontonians misinterpreting Peter Ustinov’s put-down—“New York run by the Swiss”—as a compliment. There will never be “Torontism” because that city is not a one-liner, but a place that does many things, some of them very well.
Vancouver does one thing well: We build condos higher and denser than any other spot on the continent, and our global reputation is currently being set by these acts. Because of our downtown peninsula’s love affair with tall, thin towers on townhouse bases, Vancouverism is replacing Manhattanism as the maximum power setting of contemporary city building. By some analyses, the average number of people living per hectare in our central core is now higher than that of the famous island in the Hudson.