The180·The 180

It's time to say goodbye to the single family house

Home ownership is often framed as the essential achievement in the pursuit of happiness. But Nathan Lauster says it's time for Canadians to wave goodbye to the single family home. He argues if we can break the single family home habit, we'll all be better off.
Single family homes are standard fare across Canada. But Nathan Lauster argues it's time to move beyond the isolated way of living - to duplexes, townhouses, low-rises, mid-rises, high-rises...he says the possibilities are endless. (Glenn Payette/CBC) (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

There is a lot of hand-wringing when it comes to home ownership in Canada. 

The purchase of a home, especially a single family house, is often seen as the pinnacle of a path to happiness many Canadians have bought into. 

But Nathan Lauster says not only are single family homes overrated, they're also harmful to the health of a city.

They tend to be quite isolating for people; they tend to really valorize private space at the cost of real public space where people can get out and meet other people who are different than themselves.- Nathan Lauster, "The Death and Life of the Single Family House"

As a result, the UBC sociology professor, who also calls Vancouver home, says single family housing is a "sap" on urban vitality.

Ironically, Lauster also sees his city as one that can lead the way when it comes to how cities approach planning alternatives to single family housing.

I think mixed use is a great idea. It gives people a place to go, to walk, to bike, to meet their neighbours, in a very sort of public setting and to share a broader sense of home in terms of that inter-mixture.- Nathan Lauster


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