Coal Harbour: Vancouver’s Take on Futurism

Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. The futuristic skyline of Coal Harbour.
The futuristic skyline of Coal Harbour.
It is a basic human tendency to wonder what a perfect society looks like. Plato prescribed it in Republic; B.F. Skinner engineered it in Walden Two; John Lennon contemplated it in Imagine. From Thomas Jefferson to Vladimir Lenin and Ruhollah Khomeini, many attempted it in an effort to bring notion into reality.

Not to mention that perfection is as varied as the minds from which it arises, even in the most ideologically-aligned proposal, it is still easier to believe one is not an inch too wide than it is to avoid divergence. To a certain extent, we seem to be hard wired by our genes to notice flaws – whether it is really there or not – like when we click fanatically with that healing brush to photoshop our real face away. In other words, nothing can be perfect.

If we were, however, to make selective compromises on the Platonic standard and focus instead on creating a community that is aesthetically pleasing and exceptionally livable, then our task becomes slightly easier to handle. This community should first and foremost be safe. It should promote health and wellbeing not only in a physiological sense, but in social and environmental domain too.

It should be a work of art in harmony with its exceptional landscapes. It should also be shielded from but in close proximity to major cultural and commercial institutions. Throw in first-rate public amenities with generous natural light and space, and we have the basis for an ideal community. There is at least one place in this world that fits the bill nicely – Vancouver’s Coal Harbour.

Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Portal Park, an urban park in between residential and commercial zonings of Coal Harbour. Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Pedestrian-oriented streetscape of West Georgia, Coal Harbour's main arterial thoroughfare.

Coal Harbour is Vancouver’s answer to high-density urban living. To counter suburban sprawl, it combines residential high rises with retail or townhouses at its base.

Coal Harbour is a neighbourhood located at the northwest corner of Vancouver’s Downtown peninsula, bounded to the north by Burrard Inlet and west by Stanley Park. It got its name from coal discoveries in the 1850s but never developed into a commercial mine. From 1900-1960s, it became important for lumber, shipping, and railways.

In 1980s, Marathon, the real estate development division of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), began to develop the area into an upmarket residential neighbourhood complete with shops, restaurants, marina, and the Coal Harbour Seawalk – a waterfront promenade that eventually extends through the entire Downtown peninsula.

Coal Harbour is Vancouver’s answer to high-density living. To counter suburban sprawl, it combines residential high rises with retail or townhouses at its base. Those mixed-use structures are in turn connected by a network of pedestrian-oriented streetscapes and waterfront. Spacious and clean, the walkways are lined with maple trees and marked with clear separation for cyclists and pedestrian.

In addition to the semi-private gardens are the urban parks, community centres, and public arts and fountains that enrich the area. Transparent building materials and closely regulated view corridors ensure maximum natural light and visual access to water and mountains.

Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Terraced courtyard design complementing the contour of surrounding landscape. Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Intersections at the financial district of Coal Harbour. Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Coal Harbour is Vancouver’s answer to high-density urban living. To counter suburban sprawl, it combines residential high rises with retail or townhouses at its base. Mixed-use zoning provisions promote communal interactivity and organic growth.

This beautiful interplay between residents, infrastructure, and nature is the reason why Coal Harbour is the crown jewel of Downtown Vancouver. As the world continues to urbanize in an ever-increasing pace, Coal Harbour perhaps holds the key to a healthier and more sociable urban living.

In many ways, such progressive arrangement is an accurate reflection of Vancouver’s local identity. Spacious distance between towers allow better light penetration and view protection, while low rise attachments cater appropriately towards families with children. Mixed-use zoning provisions promote communal interactivity and organic growth. Separated routes for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicular traffic provide safety and encourage walking and social interaction.
An emphasis on advanced sustainability minimize carbon footprint and facilitate healthier coexistence between human and nature. Abundance of parks and waterfront promenade, connected by walkways, allow inhabitants to enjoy the beautiful outdoors that Vancouverites value so much. There is a striking resonance between Coal Harbour and the kind of urban community Jane Jacobs envisioned in her influential The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Low rise attachments increase distance between high rises to allow better light penetration and view protection. Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Living Shangri-la and West Pender Place, Two of Coal Harbours luxury condos. Coal Harbour: Vancouver's Take on Futurism. Abundance of parks and waterfront promenade allow inhabitants to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

Generous amount of green space forms lush canopy of foliage underneath that futuristic glass skyline, providing a breathtakingly modern foreground for the water and mountains behind.

The image of Coal Harbour’s design is of stunning beauty. Terraced buildings and the monumental use of floor-to-ceiling glass panels allow a smooth integration with the contours of the surrounding landscape.

The use of glazing on the glasses lend visual depth to the Neomodern cityscape as varying sun positions and cloud formations imprint ever-changing shades of atmosphere onto the building surfaces. Generous amount of green space forms lush canopy of foliage underneath that futuristic glass skyline.

Mirror-like towers make a breathtaking foreground for the water and mountains behind. Cyclists and joggers roam while others sunbathe or practice yoga on the grass area. This beautiful interplay between residents, infrastructure, and nature is not only unique, but the reason why Coal Harbour is the crown jewel of Downtown Vancouver.

As the world continues to urbanize in an ever-increasing pace, Coal Harbour and its futuristic design perhaps holds the key to a healthier and more sociable urban living.

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