The Vancouver Model versus El Modelo Barcelona: Trevor Boddy talks, Francesc Muñoz responds.

The Canadian port city of Vancouver has entered centre stage of the global debate about future directions for cities in the sustainability era. Impressed with how increased residential density is used to create developer-funded public amenities there, American architects and urbanists first started speaking a decade ago of “Vancouverizing” their downtowns to make them more lively, sustainable and amenable.

The illustrated lecture separates the hype from the reality of the new Vancouver, also subject of his exhibition “Vancouverism: Architecture Builds the City” shown at the London Festival of Architecture Boddy will visually introduce his city which frames high residential density with a ring of raw nature, arguing that Vancouver is but the latest of a string of “Portal Cities” that began with Hong Kong , then continued with Miami, Dubai, Panama City and arguably, post-industrial Rotterdam. These are service sector cities that verge on resorts, enclaves of connection and distraction, breaking all the rules of conventional city-building.

HybridCity

Boddy sees one of Vancouver’s most positive developments being what he has named “HybridCity” never-before seen combinations of building functions, laminates of social classes, fusions of Asian and European notions of city-building, and so on. The Vancouver critic asserts “The traditional European city, the Modernist separation of urban functions, the nostalgic vision of the American New Urbanists, and the hyper-modernity of Koolhaas’ celebration of scale, speed and size for its own sake have all failed as strategies for contemporary city-building. The astringent singularity of all these is the problem — if we did not rely on hybrids, we would all be eating potatoes the size of cherries, so with cities.” He continues “Vancouver’s hybrids of Asia and Europe, its integration of social classes, its radical laminations of building function all point to a positive direction for the sustainable city, but one that is not without its own problems.”

Tuesday 9 April 19:30 AAAB Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 694

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona and teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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