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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A residential environ - urbville Rapanos, Dino

Abstract

Urbanization is a dominant characteristic of the world condition. Eventually 90 - 95 per-cent of the total population will live in urban agglomerations. In Canada, the prefered housing type is still the single-family house on its own lot, even though many people cannot afford it or must give up some of the advantages of urban life to achieve it. What is urban life now? It is based on the economic condition of people - not only is poverty a problem but so is affluence. Work and leisure are being re-evaluated and our views of labour, social class, family structure, etc. are changing. Social stratification exists and people of similar life-style tend to become members of cohesive communities. Recognizing this, how can various styles-of-life be accommodated with creating ghettoes? Community becomes harder to define considering both social and physical mobility. Problems of members complicate the issues further - changes of scale may mean entirely new problems. The family is changing as an institution and in its composition - younger marriages, female - male equality, birth control, single generation family are changing the conditions that lead to existing housing forms. In order to deal with the many complexities affecting housing a method of defining life-style was devised - life-style being regarded as a valid means of defining community in terms of individual conditions of social situation, mobility and communication, use of time, position in the power or governmental structure. This is the basis of the housing grouping theory, that is: people live together because of a common sense of appropriateness to their situation or life-style. The investigation of life-style was divided into the above characteristics of people. A study area was chosen, the Commercial Drive area of Vancouver, and the method related to the specific problem definable through use of the methodology or "check list." This method enabled us to investigate and discribe "Urbville." The life style of Urbville is characterized by people from old cultures who have moved to a new North American setting. Most people in Urbville are newcomers to this country and adaption to the new environment, new surroundings and a different society, consumes a large amount of the energies of the population. Financial means are small in relation to those of other Canadians but a little better than they were in Italy, Greece or China. Social status, however, is felt to be lower. It is therefore more secure to stay close to those who speak the same mother tongue, and who have a common culture, similar experiences and a similar fate. The income of families in 1961 was $4,034 against $5,366 Metro average. Mobility of those living here is very low compared with others in the urban area. Only 40% of the families own a car while the average for the urban area is 63%. Many men work in the district in which they live with their families, and women and children spend most of their time in the same environment, close to home, the church, the school and shopping of the area. The environ, in fact, is like the village in which all life and all public facilities are within walking distance. In the urban setting, however, the village is modified by other communication, transportation and industry. In our case its centre is a street which is also a major traffic artery for trucks and cars leading from the centre to other parts of the urban system. The arising conflicts are too great and must be adjusted, without interrupting the validity of a village centre which may also attract others from the urban area because of what it offers in restaurants, specialty shopping and its specific character. While families with children dominate the residential pattern there are also many other households which must be accommodated in proper balance and ease the close contacts which are the nature of "village life." As street life is important, cars must be removed from the streets. The paved area of the remaining street and the stoop for sitting make for easy informal contact for children and adults. There is some need for outdoor privacy, but in an atmosphere of safety in this culture, that need is small. Because of binding emotional and cultural ties the community is closely knit, although not in an organizational sense. In fact, there is a need for social assistance due to difficulties of adaption. The present formal education in the area is less than average, and pleasure and recreation must be achieved with a minimum of funds in the family with friends and neighbours. Therefore, there is the need to give the greatest wealth of experience within the environ. Home, street, shopping street, institution and green space for recreation are the ingredients of this environ.

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