UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Better Housing Scheme bungalow in 1920 Vancouver: wedding economy and aesthetics in the Craftsman model Tyner, Janna Nadine


In 1919, the federal government initiated a housing scheme to finance and construct war veterans' and low-cost homes during a period of severe housing shortages and economic recession immediately following the First World War. The Province of British Columbia participated extensively in the program under the auspices of the Better Housing Scheme Act. In Vancouver, the majority of the one hundred and fifty-three houses built under this initiative were modestly priced examples of the Craftsman bungalow. Although the federal housing guidelines defined the scheme's objectives as providing housing to those in greatest need, the choice of the Craftsman bungalow typology for the Vancouver model suggests otherwise. The Craftsman bungalow was appropriated for the Vancouver Better Housing Scheme for economic and ideological purposes, wedding economy and aesthetics with the government's desire to bring morality and family values to all classes through domestic architecture. The Scheme solicited the Arts and Crafts bungalow as its primary model in part because of its adaptability of materials: the Craftsman aesthetic emphasizing natural wood fit well into British Columbia's thriving lumber economy. Moreover, the modest, detached home set on a single lot interspersed in one of Vancouver's existing neighbourhoods bolstered the sagging real estate market, which had stagnated during the First World War, and ensured economic renewal. The Arts and Crafts inspired bungalow addressed notions of the traditional nuclear family with the husband and father as sole wage earner and the wife and mother as housekeeper. Through its plan and design and through its comprehensive marketing strategy, the bungalow reaffirmed the accepted roles of family members during the post-war period of economic recession, instability, and uncertainty with the past and the future. Through the Vancouver Better Housing Scheme, its proponents attempted to establish the detached, single family home as a national goal for everyone which would promote long term social stability and economic growth and recovery from the post-war depression.

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