UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Urban design requirements, B. C. Place Vancouver, B. C. Kemble, Roger


A new set of urban design requirements is proposed to replace the current urban design guidelines for the B. C. Place site in Vancouver, B. C. The site is 90.6 hectares of open area, contiguous to the downtown, it is the subject of extensive planning activities. The site has been chosen because it is free of most of the typical impediments that constrain urban planning in more congested areas of the city. Accordingly, a new way of expressing urban space is appropriate. To be valid urban design requirements must be conceived with a purpose in mind. The purpose, here, is the essential element of urban design, a shared vision of urban space. It must define, within a broad public consensus, a set of urban design requirements communicating, over an extended time period, a consistent vision of urban space. Six urban design requirements are set out to implement a shared vision of urban space. They have been reduced to a minimum to provide as much freedom of expression to the design professions as possible. They are under six headings: Interim Land Use, Site Development, Physical Form and Design, Environment, Occupancy, and Movement. Pivotal in the composition of the urban design requirements is an instrument called the Orthodox Surface Modulator, augmented by a Check List of architectural design elements. Together they become a metaphoric framework of reference, a part of the creative process within the development control system. The Orthodox Surface Modulator, as it is applied, describes the volumetric forms of building envelopes and the public urban spaces between buildings. It describes buildings and spaces to enhance public amenity. It may, under specific environmental circumstances, mitigate undesirable site conditions by describing building envelopes as buffer buildings, shielding passive urban space from noise and distractions. Urban Space is discussed. A Shared Vision of Urban Space, how it is evolved by public discourse, and a proposed Theory of Urban Space is explained. A critique of current urban development on Burrard Street, Vancouver, between Georgia Street and the waterfront explains why the present urban design guidelines, transfer of development rights and bonusing, have failed to produce the intended urban spatial amenity. Urban design requirements are not a new phenomenon. Only since the early 1970s have they taken on their present complex form in the City of Vancouver. A brief historic outline traces the antecedents of the proposed urban design requirements, placing them in context from early Greek attempts to rationalize optical distortion to the present day. The proposed application of the six urban design requirements and the Surface Modulator would be mandatory. The manner in which the elements of the Check List are integrated into the matrix of the Surface Modulator is proposed to be discretionary. The complete set of urban design requirements are intended to be used in a negotiating procedure common in planning practice.

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