Re-imagining the Viaducts and Eastern Core of Vancouver

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re:Connect Vancouver invited Vancouverites, local and international designers to come up with new possibilities for the future of the city’s viaducts and the city’s broader eastern core (the area around the False Creek Flats). One day downtown Vancouver will extend beyond the peninsula. The area bound by Main and Clark will be a hub of activity and not just the industrial space it is today.

Although voting for the competition has ended, the city has reiterated that this is only the beginning of what will no doubt be a 10 to 20 year process, if not more. The downtown core is pretty much built out, the area around False Creek and the viaducts will see immense change in the near future, as many towers, community facilities and new park space complete with a new beach is planned (see that plan here) for that area.

The city received a lot of great proposals. Some were really creative and others not so much. The feasibility of many of the proposed solutions remains to be seen, however, it should be noted that the city isn’t adopting just one strategy, or any for that matter. What the city will use these submissions for is preliminary discussions on how to better integrate the existing eastern core with the rest of downtown Vancouver.

The future of the eastern core will be a mix of industrial, commercial, residential and parks. The focus of this part of town will be more industrial than others, however, that does not mean a vibrate community can’t emerge. Great Northern Way Campus is the start of something great for this part of town.

Here are some of the better submissions the city received, the first one being my favourite:

1. False Hill:

False Hill addresses issues of unsustainable development and suburban sprawl by stacking layers of transportation, communication, manufacturing, storage… That artificial hill creates unique situation; everything is within walking distance and/or ride on elevator: Not only homes, shops, offices, but also warehouses, manufacturers, storage, rail cargo depot… By layering and minimizing need for transportation a true sustainable development can be realized. As it used to be, everything is under one roof.

2. Circulation Connection Attraction

False Hill addresses issues of unsustainable development and suburban sprawl by stacking layers of transportation, communication, manufacturing, storage… That artificial hill creates unique situation; everything is within walking distance and/or ride on elevator: Not only homes, shops, offices, but also warehouses, manufacturers, storage, rail cargo depot… By layering and minimizing need for transportation a true sustainable development can be realized. As it used to be, everything is under one roof.

3. Connecting The Core

Two bridges redefine the green enterprise district.
The first ­ Skyline – provides a physical connection uniting communities north and south supported by containers for creative green enterprise.
The second ­ Enterprise Way – a programmatic bridge injecting mid rise residential space above green workspace to create a mixed use environment that allows the green enterprise district to flourish.
An urban forest of 2012 trees planted in 2012 provides the glue.

4. Preserving the Industrial Core in the East End:

A strategy for ensuring the continued survival and economic viability of the East Core industrial area and the establishment of mixed Industrial/Commercial mixed use buildings.

5. Reclaiming False Creek

False Creek Flats, once an aquatic connector between Downtown, Gas Town and Strathcona is a palimpsest of Vancouver now cut by viaducts, rail lines, and areas of contaminated soils, congested surface roads and disparate land uses. What was geographically cohesive is divided. We propose a strategy of reclamation and enhancement, drawing upon each layer of the manuscript that is its history, toward a renewal of this metropolitan water-front community.

6. Spatial expansion:

There are opportunities for the site to accommodate the expansion of the current downtown both
functionally and spatially, as well as opportunities to make connection to other areas adjacent to the site.

1. Greenify the current railway by making it underground
2. Creating a waterfront space by pulling water into the site
3. Mixed land use
4. Enhancing the existing traffic system
5. Emphasizing urbanity and identity

Check out this video done by Novus TV’s Free Talk segment on what Vancouverites think about the viaducts possibly coming down:

You can view the rest of them at re:CONNECT Vancouver. The winner will be announced December 1st.

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