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Municipal Politics

Take a Video Tour of Vancouver’s ‘Missing Middle’ Housing Projects

Creative thinking, relaxed zoning inspire buildings that add density to neighbourhoods — without adding towers.

Christopher Cheung 27 Mar

Christopher Cheung reports on affordable housing for the Housing Fix. 2016-17 funders of the Housing Fix are Vancity Credit Union, Catherine Donnelly Foundation and the Real Estate Foundation of BC, in collaboration with Columbia Institute. Funders of special solutions reporting projects neither influence nor endorse the particular content of our reporting. Other publications wishing to publish this article or other Housing Fix articles, please contact editor Chris Wood.

When you think of density, you might think of blockbusting towers and land assembly projects. Two urban design experts want to let you know density doesn’t always have to be that way; density can be gentle.

Neighbourhoods of single-family houses take up one-third of Vancouver’s land area, but house only nine per cent of its residents. The City of Vancouver would like to raise that second number by embracing structures that aren’t “single family” — but aren’t high-rise towers either.

Several examples of such so-called “missing middle” projects are here already. You just may not have noticed them because of how well they nestle into existing streetscapes. There’s room for creativity too. One project repurposes a car repair shop. Another clones a heritage house.

Collectively, they show that it is possible to welcome new residents without disrupting the neighbourhoods that Vancouverites love.

Patrick Condon, chair of the urban design program at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and Scot Hein, UBC’s urban designer and former senior planner at the City of Vancouver, took The Tyee on a tour of some of the inspired — and inspiring — projects.

The video above is shot, edited and photographed by Christopher Cheung. Music by Kevin MacLeod, used under a CCAL.  [Tyee]

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