This week I met with a landscape design and builder who specializes in permaculture and hugelkultur to discuss their participation in all my projects going forward in 2018. Combined with my Net Zero Energy approach to all projects, this will be a very interesting year. I wonder what my clients will think, if I get any?
Its Friday afternoon and my phones are turned off. Most of the weeks work is done, or at least all the fires are under control, and I feel like being provocative. If you have seen my weeks postings on Facebook at “Lessons from Portland – TDA Ltd.” you will know that I was recently in Portland Oregon and I saw many examples of a city willfully getting many things right. A few of these things were discussed this week and hopefully a few more next week. For this afternoon I had to try something that used the other side of my brain.
What if we took the site of the Comox Centre Mall and redeveloped it using some of the principles from Portland, starting with block size and street width?
The first thing you discover is that the Mall site is over 4 Portland sized city blocks in area. This little Google SketchUp exercise shows the Mall site divided into 4 city blocks with 60 foot right of ways between them. Each block is about 280′ x 280′ in size and about 80,000 sq.ft. in area (portland blocks are approximately 200′ x 200′). If you developed the blocks right out to the street edge as a rule, and developed an average of 4 storeys in building height, you would get about 1.2 million square feet of floor space. If you did a healthy mix of uses, where the ground floor was retail/commercial, and the second floor was office, you would end up with 600,000 sq.ft. of space left over for residential. At an average size of 1,000 sq.ft. per unit, this yields 600 new residential units in the downtown core. Each lot could accommodate about 250 cars in one level of underground parking.
You can divide these numbers up anyway you like, or add density by going higher such as the 5 storeys that the Town of Comox is promoting on the old Lorne Hotel site. However you slice it up, it looks like we have lots of room to grow right in the heart of town. I want one of the penthouses overlooking the golf course! Who else is in?
I sometines wish that these kinds of things did not affect me so much! Saw this in the paper yesterday and all I could think of was, “Wow! This is definitely NOT Site Adpative Design.” While I recognize that we need our infrastructure to maintain our current “quality of life”, do we have to use such destructive techniques to achieve our goals? Could this substation and its access road have been inserted into a landscape (perhaps not this particular one) in a way that was complimentary to nature, or mimicked the way nature works. I have to imagine that this effort to create a man-made platform for the new facility out of sloping and forested lands was not cheap, and that it will always be subject to the forces of nature and the law of entropy which will result in on-going maintnence and the inherant costs. Might a more Site Adaptive approach actually have been less costly, longterm?