Introducing, The Village Niagara on the Lake. A town founded by Bud Wright and John Hawley.

At some point I'll ask John to give us some history of the initial impetus for The Village, but for now, suffice it to say that there was a friendly challenge issued to Andres Duany and his team at DPZ to come up with a master plan for the Village located in Canada's Prettiest Town, Niagara on the Lake.
During the course of a Charrette (we'll get into that later I'm sure) the initial master plan was created. This plan went through a couple of revisions and then when Brookfield became involved in the project in 2007 the master plan was reviewed again and the following was created.

It is really easy to see on the plan the central village green, the commercial area, and the various densities of housing. I don't want to comment just yet on the plan, although I did promise that I would be honest, so at some point I'll make some personal observations, however right now I'd just like to focus on one element of the plan - the streets.
If you visit the Wikipedia page for new Urbanism - you can get a pretty good overview of the movement, the criticism's the accolades, the academia. It actually is quite a good starting point if you are looking to go deeper faster than waiting for me to get to all the points! Two of the elements of a great neighbourhood that DPZ claims are essential relate to streets -

"8. Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
9. The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles."

If you look at this next image you can see the more typical suburban development that lies immediately to the North of the Village.
Have a look at the difference in street layout, and use of space. The older development has about as many dwelling units as the Village, actually less when you factor in the live work units in the Village.

So the question is, what? Why do we care about streets, we care about product - what do the houses look like? Why do we care about street width, street light spectrum, proximity of buildings, vista terminations, street networks, so what?
Why do we care, and does it make any difference?

In order to answer that question, we need to look at the purpose of streets. What is a street for?
Head outside to your front long does it take before you can talk to someone, how far are you from the sidewalk, from the curb? Is your car in between you and your neighbours?
Tomorrow we're going to begin our journey by looking at the point of streets - what are they for?
In the meantime, I'm headed out to my front porch....I think I'll grab some scotch with my neighbour.


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