For those of you who do not know, housing in Vancouver is beyond ridiculously expensive. Here's a little post my friend Nick Thornton of Unboring Learning wrote up for the UBC Terry Blog. I thought it was relevant for any one in or thinking about going into architecture. Affordable housing is one of my recent obsessions and is quickly becoming one of the largest challenges facing humankind.
It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great city or travel in the GVA, when they see the streets, the bike lanes, and coffee shops, crowded with hipsters, upstarts and twenty somethings, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for a latte.
Our fair city has blessed upon us highly valued real estate and there are those among us that, instead of appreciating what fortune has brought, insist on degrading and bemoaning the lack of “affordable” housing in this, Captain Vancouver’s City. To these wretched souls who cannot (or choose not) to afford a modest 200sq/ft deluxe studio in Yaletown, I say: if you want affordable housing, make more money.
Indeed, there has never been a lack of money in this city. There’s so much money to be had it is inconceivable that one could not find 2..3, even 4 jobs with which to purchase or lease a place to live. Ask yourselves, those bemoaning the temples of solitude that dot the wall around the sea, why is it that you cannot afford a house? Is it really that they are too highly priced? Or do you just not make enough money?
Another thought. There go about this town many a bicyclist, day in, day out. Merry are they on their velocentric contraptions, careening through traffic with tender groceries precariously perched on their handlebars. Often a jubilant yoga mat juts out from a shoulder sling to announce their arrival to the world. So merry are they that should we not consider the modern day bicycle as the new “affordable” housing? Consider the possibilities of living room if one were simply to drape a yoga mat across their bicycle and create a lean-to shelter fit for any king (provided that king felt okay about sleeping under perforated plastic in the rainiest city in the world).
To close, what entitles such ungrateful persons to a house (affordable or not) anyway? Since humans have learned to walk upright (though some late-night party-goers on Granville are still in the process), we have tried to remove ourselves from nature by walling in our minds with houses. Is the new affordable housing no housing at all? I believe it is, friends. And the great city of Captain Vancouver has been progressive enough to pursue that course of action. “Affordable” housing has been provided by way of no housing at all.
Want to read the original? Check out Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’
Nick is a 4th year History major at UBC, as well as the CEO (and sole employee) of Unboring Learning.com, a free online learning site. His 5th grade report card said: "Nick is a conscientious student but distracts his classmates." You can follow him on Twitter: @unboringlearn
Vancouver, the City of Glass. It’s a city of shinning skyscrapers and cardboard homes: a city of spectacular natural beauty, crushing rain, award winning livability and a frightening income gap. It’s a city of contradiction—and it’s growing. This blog will follow Vancouver through its coming of age. It will highlight the city’s search for new forms, its attempts at new urbanism, and its struggles and moments of success within the world of architecture, planning and design.