UBC Graduate Research

Making the 'Millennial Middle' Morah, Nkemjika


In Vancouver, like many other North American cities, there is no housing typology more privileged or more rigorously safeguarded than the detached single-family home. Zoning up to eighty percent of its land for strictly single-family residential districts (RS-1), Vancouver’s single-family homes have been embraced by homeowners and protected by local governments from the ‘intrusion’ of denser development. As a result, 35% of Vancouver’s households occupy 81% of the cities residential land, putting pressure on the other 65% of households to find homes on the remaining 19%. The high demand on the higher density land drives up expensive high-rise condominium developments in the Cities downtown areas. The resulting phenomenon is known as the “Missing middle”; the absence of housing typologies such as duplexes, rowhomes, and courtyard apartments, that serve as middle-ground solutions between high-rise living and single-family homes. Additionally, Vancouver’s current housing stock faces an additional problem, the quintessential nuclear family still serves as the de facto template for a single-family “home”. As the search for housing by Vancouver’s future generations of homeowners and renters increases, so does the gap between their housing options and housing needs. A new template needs to be moulded for the incoming millennial generation – a generations for whom traditional lifestyles are being challenged and living arrangements are increasingly unorthodox. As the reckoning with single-family home zoning sweeps across Vancouver and North America at large, the pressures of housing affordability, housing inequality, climate change and lifestyle change continue to mount. Vancouver has responded by incrementally allowing density into single-family home districts – introducing laneway homes, duplexes, lock-off-suites and most recently the Vancouver City Council voted to permit up to six-unit developments on single-family lots. This graduate project developed two multi-unit strategies for redesigning housing on single-family lots (crica 33’ by 122’) to explore ways Vancouver can increase densification. Ultimately, living in ground-oriented homes will no longer be restricted to the super fortunate and wealthy; now, ground-oriented homes are accessible millennials with an array of family and living dynamics.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International