Urbanism in Vancouver, BC, Canada
Urbanism in Vancouver has always faced challenges, not the least of which is how to foster a lively experience for pedestrians in the city despite not having a true ‘center’ and being overrun by cars. This particular section of street is currently filled with bean bag chairs made of the recycled fabric from the sails atop Canada Place (an icon of Vancouver). It’s currently up in the air as to whether this section of road will remain closed and as a pedestrian space but interestingly enough, when viewed from Google Maps you’ll notice a huge gathering of people on the other side of the art gallery as it’s a frequent site for protests and demonstrations. This image belies the highly controversial aspect of the art gallery and its shift from courthouses to art gallery and public space after a renovation designed by Arthur Erickson that attempted to string several spaces in this area together into a kind of building laying on its side. This image was my attempt to get at how complex Vancouver truly is and how many layers of meaning can be embedded into one space.
Place you live: Vancouver, BC
Place your photo was taken: In front of (or behind?) the Vancouver Art Gallery, on Robson between Hornby and Howe
Can you sum up Vancouver? Everything you could ask for in a city. Home to one of the very few indoor velodromes in North America, a mix of every culture where you can hear people speaking every type of language. A city with universities spread through it so there’s an interesting mix of students and families that results in a ton of great neighbourhoods. Forests, mountains, beaches, and bars.
Occupation: User Experience Designer
A perfect day in Vancouver? Wake up and ride my road bike out to Whytecliff Park along Marine, get home, change clothes, change bikes, and then head down to the beach. Stop at a food truck along the way. When the sun sets, head to a dimly lit bar and drink craft beer with some friends. My small sketchbook is in my bag the entire time and depending on the crowd, the ideas we generate could require anything from a chainsaw to Arduino to build.
If someone was visiting, what must they do? Vancouver Design Nerd Jams can be an incredible place to meet like-minded creatives and work on interesting projects that come directly from the needs of the city. If you want to connect with the outdoors a little more then hiking the Chief can offer you a beautiful view. Above all, it’s important to try some of the local spots for food and end the night off somewhere nice like the Alibi Room.
A perfect meal in Vancouver? I swear by Vancouver’s sushi, and it is always one of my last meals before I go traveling and one of the first I have when I get back. One of my favorite spots has to be The Eatery in Kitsilano for a very non-traditional sushi experience.
What is the best thing about Vancouver? I love that in one day you can do so many drastically different things. It’s so easy to isolate yourself in the woods along the North Shore and just reflect. At the same time, you can head back to the city and within a half hour be back in the city of glass. Vancouver is not renowned for having beautiful buildings but what is truly beautiful about them is that for every tall, modernist glass and steel facade that rises into the sky we are offered a reflection of the nature that surrounds us and defines our city in the way these buildings never could.
And the worst? I think that our transportation system (transit, highways, bike paths, etc.) is focused on all of the wrong problems. We make Vancouver an easier city to cycle within but ignore the fact that many of the people who work in Vancouver are commuting from an hour or more outside of it. I think that we need to improve cycling and public transit in suburban areas so that less cars are coming into the city and we can foster more lively pedestrian spaces.
A little known fact about where you live? Don’t tell Toronto, but we’re way cooler. Also, Vancouver is Awesome is a website devoted to everything that is amazing about this city, everything you could want to know about where to go and what to do is on there somewhere.
Where is your favorite place in the world? Aside from Vancouver, I love the province of Zuid Holland in the Netherlands. I was recently living and working in Friesland (a northern province) but every weekend I happily took the three hour train ride to visit cities like Rotterdam and Den Haag. The beach in Den Haag is not even close to what you would expect a Dutch beach to feel like, and seems like it was stolen straight out of California.