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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder : "monster houses" in Vancouver Horan, Linda Joy


Architectural housing styles have always been items of interest and comment in Vancouver, but recent times have seen new twists to old concerns. In the 1970s houses on Vancouver's East Side were dubbed 'Vancouver Specials'. These houses were described as 'boxy', Tot huggers' and 'ugly'. However, as the issue was relatively an "East Side problem" it was not highly visible in the media or elsewhere in Vancouver society. When large houses, of similar design to the 'Vancouver Specials', began to be built in Vancouver's more affluent and whiter West Side in the 1980s, debate over 'Monster' houses was born. This controversy has continued through to this decade as builders, real estate agents, architects, neighbourhood lobbyists, and city planners debate the "normalcy" of landscape. This thesis considers the ramifications of "urban change" to the West Side neighbourhoods in Vancouver, particularly east Kerrisdale. In particular this project focused on the relationships of power, space and race. From what ethnic background do the owners of these so-called 'Monster' houses and non- 'Monster' houses originate? What are the issues behind the design and landscapes of homes in this area? This project reviewed city by-laws, past and present. At the same time, newspaper coverage of this phenomenon was examined, looking in particular at both the content of articles and the actual titles of these articles. Finally, interviews were conducted to reveal what various people have to say about housing issues in Vancouver.

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