My sincerest apologies to all the map- and info-geeks out there that have followed Cartographically Speaking over the years and have had to endure the large breaks of silence. Life seems to have gotten in the way of doing one of my favorite hobbies. That said, the busy-ness of things hasn’t stopped me from collecting, creating, and archiving what I think is some pretty amazing information on the region—cartographic and otherwise—and now that I have a short breather with other goings-on, however, I’m back at it….and I’m going to start with BANG!
It’s no secret that anybody and everybody interested in the built environment salivates over building footprint maps, and what you see here are all the building footprints within the Vancouver. I’ve annotated some local landmarks and large footprint buildings, just to orient people and give people a sense of scale. I’ve also placed an underlay of the the city’s topography to give one a sense of the relationship to the terrain.
Countless patterns are visible. For example, many will probably be interested in how the distribution of density is clearly apparent, with the accumulation of gray lumps tightening the closer one gets to the downtown peninsula. Or perhaps the linear accretions of gray matter that speak some of our main commercial corridors – Broadway, Main St, Kingsway, Commercial Drive, to name a few. Kerrisdale is the most evident nodal clump, just north of where the Arbutus Corridor bends to follow the terrain.
But one of the most interesting and blatant, to me, is the distribution and scale of industrial buildings throughout the city – particularly along the Fraser River in Marpole, Grandview Hwy, and the False Creek Flats. Interestingly, these buildings have similar footprints to those in the dense area of the downtown core, east of Burrard St, and so sparks the imagination: one can envision a foreigner looking at this map and conceiving of a polycentric city with multiple ‘cores’, each attaching itself to different resources and significant pieces of infrastructure — water (Downtown and Marpole), train (False Creek Flats), and highway (Grandview Hwy). An alternate reality, perhaps….but one that ironically speaks pretty accurately to the true history of the city.
Erick Villagomez is the Editor-in-chief at Spacing Vancouver. He is also an educator, independent researcher and designer with personal and professional interests in the urban landscapes. His private practice – Metis Design|Build – is an innovative practice dedicated to a collaborative and ecologically responsible approach to the design and construction of places. You can also see some of his drawing and digital painting adventures at Visual Thoughts.