Evolving the Urban Dwelling
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In examining the Canadian residential fabric, this thesis advocates for the design of urban dwellings which respond directly to a number of contemporary urban challenges. A number of these challenges stem from the largely suburban nature of North American cities; there are major concerns about the relative isolation and automobile dependence of contemporary suburbs, their spread into conurbations, and their environmental impacts. On the other hand, there are challenges with many typical urban infill developments as well; they are often developed for a limited range of households, lack much in the way of connections to the outdoors, and, in contrast to some of the key arguments for intensification, often perform below the level of energy efficiency we might reasonably expect in a compact, contemporary, and sustainable urban form. All of these challenges are further discussed and evaluated in chapter three of the thesis. In attempting to address these challenges in a holistic manner, this thesis makes a case for conscientiously increasing the density of the many existing low-density areas within our urban fabric, in a form which incorporates varied outdoor spaces, varied uses, varied unit types and sizes, within a relatively energy efficient form and skin. Chapter four looks at design principles, strategies, and precedents, as well as schematic designs which attempt to integrate and synthesize these objectives. In order to illustrate the application of these principles and schematic designs to an existing low density urban area, chapter five proposes a more detailed design on a large site in Westboro, Ottawa, an evolving semi-suburban area whose development dates largely from early and mid 20th century.