Monday, January 26, 2009

The shape of things to come

James Glave and I have been tossing around ideas about urban vs. rural since I wrote about what urban means to me a couple of weeks ago. Today I responded to an excellent post on his blog with this comment:

In my long term vision for Bowen Island, I actually see the neighbourhoods becoming villages, with some small commercial activity for example in Tunstall Bay, Cowan Point and other palces perhaps (probably at some point in the future the Cape too). I’ve always had in my mind that we could move from an island of neighbourhoods to an island of villages much like other islands of our size.

Last year as I was travelling through Belgium, I was struck by how close together villages were, only a couple of miles apart, and how focused each village was on it’s own things - a pub and a bakery and some uberlocal gardens and farms producing the villages food. Every few villages there were services like a garage, a building supply store, that sort of thing. The flow of things was not “everyone falling in towards a centre” but rather, lots of things happening around several hubs all with a reagional consciousness. This is what I can see happening to Bowen as a way to preserve mixed forms of housing, a more distributed village centre and large tracts of free land for various types of resource use (recreation, ecologging, non-timber forest products, agriculture, and wild lands).

What if we became an island of villages?


  1. These ideas are very similar to Chris Alexander's Pattern Language ( A book written a number of years ago. And one that has influenced many on Bowen Island. As I understand it, pattern language was referenced frequently when the original OCP was written. It may be a good study to investigate if or why the ideas in pattern language have been applied in actual implementation of Bowen Island planning. Bowen seems to have strayed from the idea of villages. It may be good to find out why these ideas were strayed from even though they were "built into" the original OCP. I had the pleasure of knowing one of the co-authors of the book and he used it extensively when the brittania center on commercial drive was designed. Speek to Boris he may also be familiar with pattern language from a software perspective.

    What if we could actually execute on becoming an island of villages?

  2. I know Alexander's work well and have been involved in creating various pattern languages, including one for a learning experience I teach called the Art of Hosting, and part of a larger collaborative effort on patterns of conversational process that affirm life.

    The idea of developing patterns for Bowen is top of mind for me. Great to see this alignment.