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Pics of middle-class suburban dev. for your analysis & critique II

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
942
Points
24
I though this would be a series but in no way do I want to spam so just let me know if I am over doing it.

What do you think of this neighbourhood? share all your thoughts, good and bad.



3-story houses on very narrow lots. Parking is all around back.





A duplex unit.



Duplexes and single-family houses mix together.



A "linear park" (for lack of a better term) about 200 feet wide runs the length
of the development. The park is bounded to the north and
south by streets, and several north-south streets cross through it.



A corner duplex units



As with all modern subdivisions, the gaps between the houses are very small.



More duplexes.



Every houses, duplex, and townhouse in the entire development is 3 (above-ground) stories tall. I'm guessing they have basements as well, for 4 stories total.



Looking down the park.



Across the park at single-family houses.





The fact that

a) the homes are very tall (3 stories plus steep roofs)
b) the homes are very close to the street
c) the gaps between the homes are very small
d) the developments "interior streets" are quite narrow;

combine to give the streets a "canyon effect". Suburbia is probably the last place
you'd expect to find street canyons.

CENSORED - Hard Core Porn: by EG

Even the alleys give a "pseudo-canyon" effect.









Houses, duplexes, and townhouses are all mixed together. From right to left;
a duplex, a house, a house, another duplex.



The alleys are paved.



Very little wasted land.





New construction. I'm guessing a condo.



Despite the small front-yard, there are still plenty of flowers, shrubs, and small
trees.





The backs of duplex units on the left, their garages on the right.



Gasp! Every home does not look exactly like every other home.



 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
942
Points
24




Public transit goes right through the middle of the neighborhood. I doubt many
people use it, but at least it's there for those who want it.

South side of the street...



North side of the same street...



This guy even installed a small rock fountain into his front yard.



A bus shelter along the edge of the "linear park".



A couple houses and a duplex unit. Even the streetlights look nice.



There are even a few 4-story condo buildings in the mix. While not very tall,
the fact that they take up most of the lot they sit on gives them a good density.





Many of the houses have small front porches.

 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
To be honest it's not that bad. My only complaint is that all of the single family homes seemed to have the exact same amount of setback. While this is OK for a few neighboring houses it creates that canyon effect you mentioned. And it needs trees on the street...badly.

Other than that this development reminds me of many established early 1900's era neighborhoods in the northeast US.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Well, architecturally, the "traditional" design elements appear to be better realized than your previous examples. I imagine these houses are more expensive? Despite my penchant for modernist architecture books, some of these photos are actually very nice. There do appear to be parks provided. The streets actually look like they could be quite pleasant to stroll.

IF there is a place to stroll to. I remain concerned about the scale of the community. How about corner stores, coffee shops, a town plaza, etc?
 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
942
Points
24
There is currently no retail in this community. I was thinking It might not be a bad idea if they were to relax the zoning and allow a couple of these houses along the main streets to be transformed into coffee shops or corner stores. The community needs it and the density would make it possible.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
i'm diggin' it -

although i agree that the stand-to line shouldn't be so rigid, maybe they could make up for this by varying the depth of the porches.

speaking of porches, they're too small.

The trees are a bit lacking but i guess this used to be a farm?

The parks, public space look a bit sterile.

Where's the town center? The shops? That's where the transit stop belongs!
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
14,026
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58
Where is this development??

When I was in Toronto in July, I explored the new res. addition to the Beaches neighborhood on the far eastside of Toronto.

The urban form and the architecture is very similar to these pics, but it is adjacent to Queen st. commercial corridor.

These pics are indicative of the density threshold that alleys should be either mandated or strongly encouraged.

I like the difference between the "north & south side of street" pics. I love the distinction between to the two sides. It is a case study of contrasts.
 
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Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I like the design of the builings & the alleys. I'd love to see 3 story residences come back into vogue here. The isolation from retail is weird though. With that kind of density you expect to be near something. If you're not on your own private lot nowadays you expect some cultural amenities in return. Maybe its because its new but the park seems like it doesn't have much to offer but grass.

Still, $190,000 Canadian probably isn't bad in greater Toronto. Toronto seems to be constantly growing so I'm glad communities are open to this sort of development.
 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
942
Points
24
mendelman,
This community also reminds me of the one along Queen St in the Beach. Very similar in design except Queen St has all the retail, parks, transit, community centres and schools anyone could ever need. The streetcar also adds to the atmosphere maybe i'll post some pics later to show the contrast.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
I am sure there are probably problems with having shared walls, but could someone enlighten me? It seems stupid (technical term) to have each building setback three feet from each other.

I actually really like the building styles. They are not really cookie cutter in appearance but yet all are quite traditional in nature. I like that each of them has nice landscaping, but I agree with bicuit that there needs to be some street trees.
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
25
SW MI Planner said:
I am sure there are probably problems with having shared walls, but could someone enlighten me? It seems stupid (technical term) to have each building setback three feet from each other.

I don't get it either, it looks stupid to me to squash the buildings so close together with blank walls facing each other - what's the point of keeping that (unusable) space? I think it's a scale thing - all those 3 storey high blank walls look strange. My impression is that the high density/detached housing trade-off isn't quite working.

Apart from that, the pictures look quite nice, although I share BKM and others concerns about access to services and opportunities for social interactions.
 

jessearl

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
I like the design of the buildings and the laying our the development. But are there business nearby as well, or does driving still have to occur like all other suburban developments? By business, I mean not just the local 'Stop 'N Rob' but also places to shop, eat, drink, work?
 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
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942
Points
24
You basically still have to drive everywhere (or take transit) but this is a new community only constructed within the last couple years. It's only a matter of time before some retailers open up and due to the high population density they should do quiet well.

Just a theroy...
As growth continues, traffic will increase possibly making walking more attractive.

And just a silly student question

I don't understand why the 3ft setback is "stupid"? How much space would be desireable? It's enough space to push the lawnmore to and from the backyard, how much more would you need? Most of the homes in Toronto are built this way. I have lived in a house built in the 60s which only had a 3ft setback and never experienced any problems.
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
25
OfficialPlanner said:

Just a theroy...
As growth continues, traffic will increase possibly making walking more attractive.

Why not design to support walking in the first place? If you wait till traffic congestion gets so bad that people think about walking instead, conditions for pedestrians won't be very good either.



And just a silly student question

I don't understand why the 3ft setback is "stupid"? It's enough space to push the lawnmore to and from the backyard, how much more would you need?

Sorry maybe "stupid" was a bit harsh, I was just trying to understand why you would have a 3ft setback. I haven't really seen 3-storey residences built like that before. Thank you for enlightening me as to the need to be able to push the lawnmower to the front :) Seriously, it just seems like if they're going to be that close to each other and you can't really have windows in those walls, or trees in the space between, and not much sunlight through there, then why not join them up.

I just think I am allergic to multi-storey blank walls.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
The 3ft seperation seems to be a concern to some. Don't forget it would provide some fire seperation and noise transmission mitigation as well as the access already mentioned. Party walls can have market resistance due to ownership, boundary, renovation and maintenance concerns (at least in my experience).

I wouldn't be too concerned about the canyon effect on some streets, particularly if those streets have a collector function. As peripheral obstructions, the buildings will maintain slower vehicle speeds. The enclosure can also promote an atmosphere of neighbourhood and casual surveillance can assist perceptions of safety.

Thanks OfficialPlanner, I like these picture posts from OS - they invariably look different to what I see day to day in the flesh.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
I think the 3ft. setback - it actually looks more like a 1.5 ft. setback from the lot line - has more to do with the developer trying to cram as many houses as he can into a finite space -

here's the place i'm selling - a twin c. 1927 with a 3ft. alley between me and my neighbor on the right - we don't have blank walls. There are 2 windows on the second floor, one for the bathroom and one for the the third bedroom. The first floor has 3 windows, two in the dining room and one in the kitchen.
Our windows line up perfectly. That's not code anymore so new construction has the windows offset so when you look out you're staring at their wall rather than into their bedroom/bathroom. At any rate, i don't spend much time staring out the window, and from what i could tell my neighbors didn't either. The windows let in a lot more light than a brick wall.



This block has 11 sets of twins on it, behind us is the same thing, across the street are much larger victorian twins with bigger yards - only 6 of them fit on the block.


At the top of the block is the downtown/main st.
 
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Plan Man

Cyburbian
Messages
125
Points
6
Are they all pictures of Oak Park?

(As a note, our group had all gone on a visit back in November 2002 - our favourite shot, and probably the most influential at showing the merits of NU, is that of the conventional house and the NU house side by-side - instant example of how design makes a difference).
 

simulcra

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
As voiced by others, I do like the development design, but just that it looks pseudo-ped friendly.

No places to go to? Parks look weak. And block sizes? as in walkable blocks?

But I would kill for that kind of density here.
 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
942
Points
24
I was thinking the lack of side windows might have something to do with sound infiltration. If both windows were open you would clearly be able to hear every detail in the neighbouring house... This is from personal experience :(

SW MI Planner,
Not having shared walls was probably a development decision. If they were shared, they could no longer be called single family homes which would hurt the marketing and the value of the homes.


I know openspace is important but I think this space would be better if it were zoned commerical/retail rather then parkland. I don't think it's healthy for such a dense community to be 100% residential.



Don't forget that this is the Canadian version of sprawl. All this was farmland just 5 years ago.
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
Points
23
I'm going to play devil's advocate here, for the commercial/retail space. Actually, I'd be curious to know how far/how walkable it is to services. I know you mentioned that most things have to be driven to, but is it a short but uncomfortable walk? Would sidewalks mitigate that? I'm curious because we have a few similar developments going up near where I live, sort of New Urbanist-ish. One of them has a commercial component that is slowly but surely growing. The whole development looks almost like a Midwestern town, if you squint and ignore the fact that there are no trees yet. The other....has a village green component, and was supposed to have a commercial component as well. From what I've been told, the commercial part flopped and the developers are now looking into rezoning it for townhouses or other residential forms. Both of these developments are plopped down in former cornfields, and neither one of them is really walkable to any place. So perhaps, if you build something like that, that's purely residential from the beginning, in an area where people are used to having to drive, they're going to keep driving, and use the sidewalks for jogging etc. The development near me that has a strong commercial component, has a main street and a cross street; it did pretty much from the beginning. The other one, didn't.
Ok, having said all that, I think it looks great, the houses are nice designs and not just half-hearted interpretations of historic vernaculars, and the alleys--what I wouldn't give to have more alleys here. It's great to see more and more of these sorts of developments as opposed to the ubiquitous vinyl villages.
 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
942
Points
24
In my opinion, it is a very walkable community, it's just there are no destinations to walk to yet. I'll guesstimate it's a 15 minute drive to the nearest commercial area. That's why I believe some of the greenspace along the arterial roads should be allowed for commercial/retail development.

Just imagine (although very unlikly) if we could get something like this developed


If retail fails, it may of needed a higher population density to support it. That might of been the case with the village green community.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
I hear what you are saying about trying to get mixed uses in place on the busier roads. Ironically when I first started work as a planner, there was a big push to exclude commercial from main roads for the convenience of traffic.

In our new citywide plan, hopefully in force by the end of September, we have a control that prohibits residential buildings but permits mixed use buildings in strategic locations. We have a guideline that suggests a minimum of 30% commercial in such mixed use buildings. Roughly we are hoping for the ground floor commercial, two floor residential per the photo above. We are requiring that any residential units be designed to permit easy conversion to offices or home offices if demand warrants.

It is possible the control will come under pressure if we end up with too many vacant commercial premises but we hope we have been judicious enough in the selection of locations and that it works out.
 
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