Tuesday, February 25, 2014

West End Housing Complex (1956)

The term Vancouverism is used to describe an urban environment that allows for large populations to be housed in medium and tall commercial and residential buildings without forsaking views.

A key to this concept is the absence of an interurban freeway, something that was fought by local citizens in the 1960s -- the result of which was a municipal party known as the Committee for Progressive Electors (COPE).

The drawing above is by the architect Arthur Erickson, a progenitor of Vancouverism. Entitled West End Housing Complex (1956), it depicts a city based not on what a domicile looks like on the inside but what it looks onto. At the time this drawing was made, the southwest view was of False Creek, a smouldering sculpture made up of beehive burners and sooty tugs.

Today, False Creek is a tourist market, while the once pristine North Shore Mountains (to the northwest) is a glass staircase known as West Vancouver, the richest municipality in the country and home to Vancouver's wealthiest developers, many of whom look onto Vancouver as if it were their playground.

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