Density without towers? Vancouver architect says yes
Architect Michael Geller says Vancouver should look to Amsterdam and Denmark for inspiration
If Vancouver wants to introduce more density into the city, one architect says it can be done without transforming the city into an endless row of high-rise towers.
Many experts have called for more density in the city to make it easier to build up transit and concentrate other services, increase sustainability and build more community.
Michael Geller, an architect and adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University, says building towers has become "a bit of a tradition" in Vancouver, particularly in the West End,
But the city could learn from some new projects in Europe which are prioritizing lower rise buildings while still achieving high levels of density, he says.
"I've been struck by some of their brand-new planned communities … The buildings tend to be less than 10 storeys."
Geller says the cleverly designed developments present a middle ground between single-family housing and high-rise towers.
"When you put a high-rise on a major street next to a single-family house — like Venables and Commercial where the rest of the development is three or four storey scale — I think people are uncomfortable with the juxtaposition."
Instead Vancouver should build more mid-rise buildings, he says, and make better use of lots by building homes closer together and to the end of the lot lines.
He said even though these low to mid-rise buildings won't achieve the very high densities of high towers in a concentrated area, overall across the city they could achieve much higher densities.
And even though it is not always as lucrative for developers to build smaller buildings on the same parcel of land, Geller said new architects and clever design will push developers in that direction.
"You can't help but be inspired," he says. "You are going to see more of these buildings being built because they're going to be built in locations where you can't get approval to build high-rises given current community attitudes."
Geller is giving a lecture on high-density housing tonight, Feb. 15, at SFU Vancouver Harbour Centre at 7 p.m.
With files from The Early Edition
To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Michael Geller says density achievable without high-rise developments