Of the thesis entitled: Domestic Insurgency | Toward Affordable Housing in Vancouver
Vancouver’s ongoing housing crisis has decoupled dwelling prices from local income through investment oriented dwelling typologies and restrictions on land availability. Vancouver, as one of the first North American cities to reach a post-sprawl condition, must correct policy and land use to acknowledge changes in dwelling preferences, demographics, and land value to provide a housing supply strategy.
Following the rewriting of contradictory policy that is currently misaligned with the goal of affordability, the thesis proposes a housing framework for the private sector to profitably build dwellings suitable for a range of local incomes. The framework targets Vancouver’s most prominent, repetitive, and artificially underused land, its low density house neighbourhoods, to resurrect a middle density housing typology to respectfully transition neighbourhoods to affordable dwellings. Using a three pronged approach of neighbourhood improvement, flexible design for occupant control, and a focus on sharing, dwellings are drastically reduced in cost due to efficient space and material planning while simultaneously increasing living benefits to building inhabitants and its existing neighbours. Traditional thresholds at the dwelling and building scales are reimagined to support smaller living spaces and urban development in established neighbourhoods. These thresholds create new co-dependent, beneficial relationships and dynamically mitigate frictions, rather than eliminate them altogether. Ultimately, the framework provokes a wave of disruption in the housing market, where alternative living arrangements in the form of co-living apartment models and a wider spectrum of dwelling prices are mass produced, reinstating affordability as a key facet in the living standard formula governing housing design. The disruption would challenge homogeneous condominium construction to adapt a new competitive housing segment, shifting the focus from investment to human capital.
The framework is an insurgent force that provides affordable housing through the private sector despite distorted high property costs, using existing property and economic mechanisms to create an alternative competitive affordable housing type. It is also an insurgency within the built fabric of the city, inserting itself within established neighbourhoods currently fortified against change and in progressing ideas of co-living and participatory design. Through efforts to improve neighbourhoods for existing residents and a focus on the inhabitants, the insurgency reduces opposition to new development, thereby securing a predictable and sustainable supply of housing for the long term. Over time, it is the ambition of this proposal to reach a critical mass in which the influence of the new housing segment reduces housing prices for all dwellings, restoring affordability within the entire city.
Adrian Blackwell, University of Waterloo
Andrew Levitt, University of Waterloo
Val Rynnimeri, University of Waterloo
The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.
The Defence Examination will take place:
Friday, March 23, 2018
A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.
7 Melville Street South
Cambridge, ON N1S 2H4