This thesis is a response to the changing pedagogy of residential development in Canadian cities and the current trend of achieving ‘density’ in design. Winnipeg, a great example of urban sprawl, is a city currently focusing efforts on development in the downtown core with the addition of numerous residential projects. However, single family residential neighbourhoods are still expanding around the city as it becomes a less and less sustainable option for living. The question is, is there an alternative to suburbia?
As part of the research, a study of the various residential developments around the city was conducted, both in the downtown core and the sprawling limits of the city. The focus was to limit the scope to a certain demographic of home owner, a very important group that is often not considered when developers design for density especially downtown, and that is Families. With this in mind, it was clear that the housing options in the downtown failed to compete with suburbia in most categories other than proximity.
What does suburbia really have to offer? At the heart of it, its ego. It is ownership of space and the display of such. It is the sense of individualism in an environment that may not appear so independent. It provides a space for the car (which is required in these distant neighbourhoods), and a lawn for the community to compete in ‘who has the greener grass’. Most importantly, suburbia traditionally provides a very safe and social setting for families.
What does suburbia fail to offer? Society is no longer the typical 1950’s suburban family- it may have never truly been that image in the first place. Yet, it feels as though housing is still restricted to this social typology, and does not recognize the realities of how we live as we age, how we deal with accidents or permanent ailments, and it does not recognize how families change through divorce, having children, or re-marriage.
The goal of this thesis is to propose one possible alternative to suburbia. The intent is to play to the ego of suburbia, of detached home ownership, of large square footage spaces and to the realities of the car- all while trying to achieve some form of density in close proximity to downtown Winnipeg.