Flat City Response
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It has become widely recognized that the development of postwar suburbia in North America has had a detrimental effect on community identity, environmental sustainability, and social conscience. Suburban development is often prominent in mid-sized cities made up of a low density or “flat” urban landscape. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo’s urban core consists of three such cities (Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo). As one of Canada’s most economically stable and fastest growing municipalities, it provides a rich opportunity for regional growth through intensification. In the Region of Waterloo’s latest planning policy plan, “A Vision for a Sustainable and Livable Waterloo Region” is outlined. In addition to this comprehensive policy, a two-part “Visualizing Densities” study provided a comprehensive analysis of the existing communities throughout Waterloo Region and how they can be improved. Both of these documents helped to promote sustainable growth in the downtown and inner city areas, however, they have not effectively addressed how to deal with existing suburban areas. The Visualizing Densities Part II study proposed a redesign of a three selected existing suburban study areas throughout the region. Although these proposals had good intentions, they all but ignored the existing network of streets and built fabric. Therefore, it only really addressed how to design and build a new green field development. By building upon current suburban redevelopment concepts and strategies, this thesis will develop an adaptable process for existing suburban community revitalization. This process will be applied to a suburban study area set within the city of Waterloo (one of the regions mid-sized cities). A critical aspect of this process will be the renewed role that architects must play as analysts, visionaries and educators. The overall intention of this thesis will be to develop a means of engaging and revitalizing existing suburban areas into more efficient, self-sustaining, and responsive community networks.