Friday, April 26, 2013

In defence of density

I just got back from a trip visiting family and friends in Ottawa. It was great to see everyone, and to see how the city has changed in the two years since we left.

I had forgotten all about the fat black squirrels that take over the city in the spring. I had also forgotten the arrogant Canadian geese who refuse to get out of your way as you bike/run down the riverbank paths towards them.

What I hadn't forgotten was the density of the city. We always lived in multi-unit apartments and condos during our five years in the capital. A house wasn't ever on the radar as we weren't going to give up the convenience of the downtown for the suburbs. There are lovely single family homes in the denser neighbourhoods, but they were far beyond our budget. But really, at that point in our lives, we didn't aspire to own a house.

When we moved from Saskatoon, we bought our first house - the one we live in now. We love our home, and friends and family who visit always comment on how great it is. It's quite modern, so it's not everyone's cuppa tea, but the only somewhat negative comment we've heard was along the lines of, "It's a great house, but I could never live in it because it's attached." To each their own.

Our house is a duplex, but I've been told that the word town home is preferred due to the negative connotations with the d-word. The commenter above will remain nameless, and it should be mentioned that this person grew up in a suburb in Western Canada where space is abundant and it's not as expensive to own a lot of land.

I don't want the maintenance that comes with a big lot, or the commutes that come with life in the suburbs. (In fairness, I know a lot of people live in the 'burbs to be closer to their work. Not everyone works downtown). As Saskatoon grows, it will be interesting to see how smaller town, and smaller-city ideals evolve and change. I'm from a smaller city myself, so I'd reckon that my thoughts on city planning and density come from the pleasure of living in the heart of Dublin, Ireland and in the thick of things in the nation's capital.

My only message with this post is that density can be beautiful. Take a peek at some of the duplexes town homes and condos I stumbled across in Ottawa. Some are traditional with brick and stone, some are eclectic, and some are uber modern. Translation: There really can be something for everyone when it comes to the densification of cities.

Apologies for the terrible quality of some of the photos. I was just gallivanting around with my camera phone.

How quaint and cosy is this stone abode?

 I loved this brick town home with its red and blue doors.
These white houses were so stately looking, I felt like I was walking the streets of London.
If stone and brick aren't your thing, how about a nice sunny yellow?
Or pale pink?
I love the mix of stone, stucco and black window frames on these.
And finally, a mix of contemporary and modern homes:

Lastly, this building really intrigued me as it looks like a former schoolhouse or government building that's been converted to condos. I love the art deco detailing on the front entry. My photo below is pretty poor quality, so I've nabbed a somewhat-jagged screen-grab from Google - it looks even prettier when all the trees are less naked.


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