Brent Toderian's blog

Brent Toderian is an international consultant on advanced urbanism with TODERIAN UrbanWORKS, Vancouver’s former Director of City Planning, and the President of the Council for Canadian Urbanism. Follow him on Twitter @BrentToderian

Citifying a Suburban Shopping Centre

In a past post, I wrote on the plan to urbanize Vancouver's Oakridge Centre, our first car-oriented "suburban" shopping centre (see past post here for information, report-links and images). Some have asked how the downturn has affected the plans to proceed - as we were only anticipating going through the next steps of planning and design (rezoning) in the next year or so, with some time before the owners were planning on initiating the physical transformation of the mall, I believe they remain in "wait-and-see" mode regarding possible timing of first phases, relative to the market.

The Copenhagen Approach To "Traffic" Could Transform Your City!

Our world and our cities, would be so very different, if all of the Directors of Traffic thought like Niels Tørsløv of Copenhagen - especially if, like Niels, all such Directors were trained as landscape architects. What if the "traffic problem" was about too many bikes, and the "parking problem" was about how to deal with so many bikes overtaking the public spaces and sidewalks?

Can Vancouver "shift form"?

A new design competition thinks it can.

In a recent post, I discussed the value of open design competitions in strengthening a city's "culture of design". I explained how Vancouver, often described as a city by design but in past years perhaps lacking a competition skill-set, is seeking to strengthen that culture, albeit by small steps and grass-roots efforts thus far. Here's the link - you might want to read that post first

Laneway Housing Getting Lots of Attention

Since Vancouver Council unanimously supported the preparation of bylaws to introduce laneway housing across the City in single family zones, the housing idea has been getting consistent media attention. Although we're in the process of using modeling and dialogue to answer the last few questions - what the parking standard should be, and the exact dimensions of the 1 1/2 story model - the most common question I get is "when can we apply for one?" 

Competitions help young designers get B.I.G

Perhaps the biggest difference between the design processes in Europe and North America, at the building scale and increasingly at the neighbourhood scale, is in the use of design competitions. I've been fascinated by this difference for some time, and make a point while in every competition-friendly city I'm in, to dig a little deeper.  

Water City Design - Copenhagen and Vancouver

In 2008 I took a wonderful trip to Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Malmo, Sweden. Although the occasion involved invitations to speak on Vancouver's waterfront achievements and challenges, it was really an opportunity for me to learn from these dynamic cities, and see the best and worst of European waterfront design and master-planning. 

Is Your Planning Department Passionate?

As we move into a 2009 full of staggering urban challenges - economic, environmental, social, and leadership challenges - do our planning departments have the passion, creativity and leadership to be what our cities need them to be? 

Water City Design: Vancouver

Since arriving in Vancouver, I've realized that we are part of a "peer group" of international water cities. Through waterfront design conferences where the same cities seem to get invited time and time again, or through deeper and more interactive collegial opportunities for shared learning such as summits or study trips, these global water cities are taking every opportunity to learn from each other's successes and failures around water-edge planning and design. 

Laneway Housing moves forward in Vancouver

When Vancouver City Council approved the new EcoDensity Charter and Initial Actions earlier this year, among these was a prioritized action to further develop the idea of laneway housing. 

The issues and options report relating to this work program is now available for downloading from the EcoDensity website. 

Malls needn't wait for failure, to Re-Urbanize

One of Vancouver's most recent significant planning exercises is noteworthy not simply because of the merits of its process or its resulting planning and design vision, but perhaps more so because of the new model it may represent to North American mall owners. 

But I'll come back to that.