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Thread: Architectural Consistency in Edmonton

  1. #1
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    Default Architectural Consistency in Edmonton

    I'm sure there's another thread that's related to this, but I couldn't find one.

    So I was looking around the Riverdale area, looking at some of the new infill SF and duplex homes, and I have to say I like a lot of them. However, they only really seem to work well within the context of the lot they sit on. For example a small area in Riverdale has these three duplexes:

    https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.54480...7i13312!8i6656

    https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.54488...7i13312!8i6656

    https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.54419...7i13312!8i6656

    Now architecturally I don't mind them, could be better, but not eyesores by most measures. However, within the context of each other, they look terrible. Because they're all so different, they manage to all look out of place at the same time. I think with the rise of globalization and the internet, architects have started to look less at the region and are completely influenced by the worldwide styles of the day, problem being that there are too many of them. Without regional influence the architecture becomes a mish-mash of whatever styles the different builders look to for ideas.

    I think Edmonton could gain a lot from creating a more consistent style of building and help create more sense of place and identity. However how could this be done? Vancouver tried to control architecture and ended up with Vancouver specials, Edmonton is in the process of doing the same thing imo with the required 3 materials on the facade. Is there any examples of a city guiding or restricting architecture and being successful? Is this something that we just have to hope builders see the value of? Right now I'm very pessimistic about that based on the quality of houses going up as infill and in new communities.

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    As someone who lives in an area that has anywhere form the original 1940s bungalows with not basement to lot filling 2 floor + roof deck infills, I prefer the lack of consistency. It's what makes it unique.
    What I don't like is that the vast majority of infill builders have the same style between year x and year y. You can tell when an infill was built, just by the style regardless of who built it. Right now it is EIFS stucco, a little wood, a little hardieboard or maybe some stacked stone.

    The option is out there in spades with the new build areas to jump into an architecturally controlled neighborhood.
    Personally, I like living in the wild west of styles and would object to changing that. Though some architectural minimums could work. I really don't like vinyl siding

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    I agree that uniqueness is good, but you can also be somewhat unique while having a consistent architectural style.

    You can probably guess that these are Montreal:

    https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.52049...7i13312!8i6656

    and you can probably guess that these are Toronto:

    https://www.google.ca/maps/@43.67445...7i13312!8i6656

    They are largely a more consistent style within the region that still allows the streetscape to be consistent, while also giving an identity to the city because of their association with the city itself. They are also interesting buildings, although not completely unique.

  4. #4

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    My ex-wife and I once went out one Sunday to look at showhomes in some new neighbourhood of ticky-tacky just north of St. Albert. The sales lady asked us where we lived (Forest Heights) and upon hearing that her face twitched and she said "Oh, the houses there are all... different" and we had to hold our chuckles as we thanked her and left.
    I feel in no way entitled to your opinion...

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    Quote Originally Posted by seamusmcduffs View Post
    I agree that uniqueness is good, but you can also be somewhat unique while having a consistent architectural style.

    You can probably guess that these are Montreal:

    https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.52049...7i13312!8i6656

    and you can probably guess that these are Toronto:

    https://www.google.ca/maps/@43.67445...7i13312!8i6656

    They are largely a more consistent style within the region that still allows the streetscape to be consistent, while also giving an identity to the city because of their association with the city itself. They are also interesting buildings, although not completely unique.
    Well to me those could also be anywhere NE USA as well. They are very nice and have not been replaced because they were designed and constructed in a time that used pleasing materials, simple but elegant and well proportioned design, plus they are in areas that somehow survived the 1960s-70s love affair with tearing everything down.
    They are a reflection of a period of construction on empty land, not necessarily a specific City design imo.

    Edmonton is too new to have that. The vast majority of the housing stock in 1940s and onwards. A lot of it was never built as anything more than post war pop up starter homes and to deal with the baby boom. So a lot of it gets torn down and not renovated. Before that the areas were homogenous. My area was all similar 1940s/50s builder box housing.
    Now it's a mix of everything and every style and I enjoy that. Transformed from a typical burb, where every house is "nice" but similar, to one where when I take a walk; "it's who built that and why...yuck" or "wow that is a great house" and everything between.
    Personally my experience is mixed built forms/styles introduce conversation and I'm partial to that.
    Last edited by DanC; 28-07-2017 at 04:54 PM.

  6. #6

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    I prefer the variety in housing stock. I dislike the new build neighborhoods where the houses are all 3-4 variations of the same and that you'd have trouble distinguishing one from another. heh, I could see kids getting lost in neighborhoods like that.

    I don't like restrictive covenants either on color, type of fence, roofing etc. Went for a walk in one upscale neighborhood in the West End and you'd think everybody has to have Cedar Shakes. Million dollar homes sitting with some of the worst roofing material available, that is notoriously expensive and that cracks in the intense heat and length of our summer days.

    Let people chose, within restriction, what housing they wish to build as per their lot designation. I welcome that. I don't get the concern with these houses. Since when were houses all down the block supposed to look the same?

    ps DanC and I are agreeing on something. What on Earth!
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    I prefer the variety in housing stock. I dislike the new build neighborhoods where the houses are all 3-4 variations of the same and that you'd have trouble distinguishing one from another. heh, I could see kids getting lost in neighborhoods like that.

    I don't like restrictive covenants either on color, type of fence, roofing etc. Went for a walk in one upscale neighborhood in the West End and you'd think everybody has to have Cedar Shakes. Million dollar homes sitting with some of the worst roofing material available, that is notoriously expensive and that cracks in the intense heat and length of our summer days.

    Let people chose, within restriction, what housing they wish to build as per their lot designation. I welcome that. I don't get the concern with these houses. Since when were houses all down the block supposed to look the same?

    ps DanC and I are agreeing on something. What on Earth!
    Variation has nothing to do with new or old.
    It's more about higher end houses. Uniqueness can only be obtained by being rich or being weird.

  8. #8

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    I'm at least weird.

    btw, of course variation in age of housing stock relates to variation in said stock. Developers and development styles here change all the time so that arguably age more than anything creates variation in housing stock. How on Earth would you think otherwise?
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    I'm at least weird.

    btw, of course variation in age of housing stock relates to variation in said stock. Developers and development styles here change all the time so that arguably age more than anything creates variation in housing stock. How on Earth would you think otherwise?
    New houses are essentially 95% cookie cutter crap boxes and 5% decently unique ones.
    Older houses are ... well ... older versions of that 95% crap.

  10. #10

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    Older neighbourhoods will acquire variation over time as people renovate or rebuild. There's also generally a bit more room for addition on older houses than on newer: newer homes are usually closer to lot coverage limits, and you can't easily add a 2nd story on a house with a long-span truss roof.

    Of course, that requires a certain level of wealth. In my neighbourhood there have been more complete re-builds and large additions in the part that was originally higher income, with more modest additions in the middle-income section.
    There can only be one.

  11. #11
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    Diversity happens over time even without rebuilds or major renovations. Changing colors and finishing materials can make otherwise identical structures look distinctive, while the use of a limited color palette and a limited set of materials will make a neighborhood look boring and homogeneous regardless of how much architectural diversity there is.

  12. #12

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    My ex-wife and I used to go showhome touring. On one of our treks out to homes in some subdivision north of St. Albert the saleslady asked where we lived. Upon hearing that we lived in an older nerighbourhood built in the 60s, she recoiled with "Homes there are all... different."
    I feel in no way entitled to your opinion...

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