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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Urban design considerations for the Versatile Shipyard site in North Vancouver Blackwell, Ross


The aesthetic and social qualities of urban form combine to generate meaning for people as they relate to the environment in which they work, live and play. The provision of quality urban form can promote a heightened experience of place, stimulate social interaction, enhance safety, and provide people with a generally pleasant visual experience. Unfortunately, it appears to be in short supply, particularly in North America, which has led a number of theorists to dissect the problem and advance abiding principles to guide new development. While these principles are extremely valuable tenets, they are vast in number and vary depending on the priorities and focus of the theorist. It becomes difficult to choose which set of principles to follow. However, translating design theory into a practical application can not occur without careful consideration of the context and understanding the requirements of a development's potential user group. The study surveys design theory and distills the more consistent and Important points relating to quality urban design features. From this large body of knowledge, a systematic approach to the practical application of the information is developed. This approach can develop a context by which design elements can be discussed and assessed in a broader forum. The site selected as a test study area is the former Versatile Shipyard site in the City of North Vancouver. The site was selected because of its strategic location in the City, the waterfront exposure, its heritage significance, and pending redevelopment. The thesis begins by assessing design theory against two case studies: a residential development in the False Creek area of the City of Vancouver, and a similar development at the Westminster Quay in the City of New Westminster. These sites were selected as case studies because their context is relatively similar to the Shipyard site. From this, a design matrix is developed which embodies a conceptual hierarchy of theory. This is coupled with contextual background information pertaining to a specific study area and its surrounds, and the planning framework influencing its development. Using this accumulated information and design matrix, a conceptual urban design plan is proposed for the Shipyard study area. The main conclusion of this thesis is that the process of culling theoretical information into a matrix, combined with a contextual assessment, produced a design concept that improves upon planning work undertaken to date for the Shipyard study area. Furthermore, the process would appear to have a broader application to other areas of redevelopment where quality urban form is the desired goal.

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