Better know a district: A landscape architect’s take on a Colbert favourite

One TCL team member binged on online archives of American satirist/comedian/thespian Steven Colbert’s (pronounced Col-ber) self titled show, Colbert Nation. Colbert has a 450-something part series called “Better know a District” where he interviews the congressmen and congresswomen who represent their district in the House of Representatives. Hilarity Ensues. (Can someone do a study on the jerrymandered border lines of US districts please? Or at least direct me to one?)

In the same spirit, this new category will be a landscape architect’s take on a town/city/village/quarter (ou quartiér) with some simple statistics (location, population, industry etc) and reasons why it’s a “district” of interest!

To kick it off, I present to you: Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada.

image: knitgrrldotcom

Where? On False Creek between West End and Kits Point.

Population? TBC – unable to find anything online!!

Area? 35 Acres = 0.14km2

Melbourne Area Comparison? Yarra’s Edge, Docklands  = 0.15km2

Image: ecstaticist

Typology? Reclaimed land island, post-industrial, mixed use

Tell me more about it!

Image: Lance McCord

Granville Island got a mention in the BBC Travel section as a must-see for all tourists visiting this friendly sometimes-french-speaking commonwealth nation. It calls it a “Village amidst the Skyscrapers” a sort of Borneo Island (or Java-eiland for you purists out there)  in Canada.

Granville has a mix of post-industrial buildings converted to artist’s studios (interactive map), a daily fresh food and produce market, cafes, and Canada’s oldest Microbrewery: Granville Island Brewery.

Project for Public Spaces, a not-for-profit organisation which describes itself as:

…a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Our pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.

awarded the island with a “Best Neighbourhood in the World” title in 2005. PPS summarises the successes of Granville Island as:

Granville Island’s lessons are that great places can be created almost anywhere under any conditions with minimal expense. Given its isolation Granville Island had to succeed not only as a series of great places, but as a great district. It has succeeded, not by focusing on a coherent master plan or a theme park like design integrity, but through maintaining its flexibility as it has grown institutions, business and places from within — serving a broader and broader set of users.

Image: Michael Kalus

The success of the island also seems to be it’s attraction to both residents of greater Vancouver and tourists. The site was redeveloped by the Canadian Government in the 1970s for $19 million dollars as a “people friendly place” designed with housing, exhibition space, and open parkland. For this investment, the Canadian Government now recieves $35 million dollars anually in tax revenue alone – an interesting point given the deterrant to proposing these kinds of urban post-industrial projects being that they are not seen as financially viable without the skyscrapers and DFOs.

Granville Island Tourist Site

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