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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reading the text of Vancouver: a case study of delayering as an urban analysis method Voigt, Robert Joshua

Abstract

This thesis examines an urban form analysis method called delayering. This method examines the street network of a city. By plotting the streets in an electronic format and mapping information based on the spatial properties of streets such as those running east west, and overlaying these with other maps, delayering identifies patterns in the streets. This method was presented in a book titled The Urban Text. In the book the findings of an analysis of the City of Chicago were presented to outline the attributes of the delayering process. These include the ability to find patterns unseen in traditional analysis methods, the ability to read neighbourhood boundaries from the street patterns, and heighten awareness of elements through a unique graphic presentation method. These attributes and claims of the delayering process made it intriguing as a potential tool for the planning profession. Urban physical planning is based on a rational-comprehensive methodology where analysis is used to inform scenario development and decision making. If delayering could add to the analysis phase of planning it could become a useful tool to the profession. To identify this an assessment of the process' strengths and weaknesses had to be made. To examine this question I reviewed contemporary literature regarding the urban environment, the importance of the street, perception of place, and presentation methods. This provided the background information that supported the importance of the attributes of the delayering process. To test the strengths and weaknesses of the process a case study use of it in the City of Vancouver was conducted. This tested the transferability of the process, its accuracy, and the ease of use. Combining this information with the information of the literature review an assessment of delayering was made. The overall findings were that the process lacks single strength that would make it a useful tool. All of its attributes were somewhat successful in their claims, however the combined process was not seen as superior to traditional methods of analysis of form The unique methodology of the process, a reverse of the overlay design process, and focus of the street were seen as the overall strengths. The recommendations for the use of delayering is that it adds to the theoretical discussion of the planning profession, it can be helpful in exploratory analysis exercises, and its methodology can be adapted to other types of urban form mapping exercises.

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