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1. Copenhagen has lots to teach Canadians about Building in the North
2. Dundas' Parkside School- Mid-Century Modern At Risk
3. Lunenburg Demolition Approved
4. Award-Winning Canadian Heritage Conservation Project Featured at IUCN World Conservation Congress

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1. Copenhagen has lots to teach Canadians about Building in the North
Catherine Nasmith

View from the bike lane in Copenhagen
New Canal Development Area, Sluselobot, buildings mass broken down in scale

 I am just back from an architectural exchange program with Copehagen, which involved visiting architects and several newly created urban areas in Copenhagen. Design is celebrated there, making it a bit of heaven for an architect to visit. Elegant, restrained appropriate for its purpose for the most part.

What is wonderfully noticeable is how the Copehagen gets so much right. It’s a northern city and has evolved with wide streets and medium scale buildings of generally the same height to take the best advantage of the available light and minimize wind, particularly in winter. As is often the case, the best areas of the city are the oldest, where the subdivision of land into small building parcels allows for lots of variety in ownership and activity. Yet there is a common understanding of typology, building heights and widths, even setbacks.

In the newer parts of the city we visited, Danes have done a lot right. Two harbour areas have been filled and developed for housing, with some small shops along minor commercial streets. But because it is being developed by one hand, and large capital, the grain is much bigger. In one newly developed neighbourhood, full of canals, Sluselobot, the scale of the buildings was been broken down by having several architects design small facades. It gave a very attractive result, augmented by beautiful boardwalks. It looks like a vibrant area, but it can never offer the variety that evolves in older finer grained areas.

Downtown bikes are everywhere…the policies of organizing the streets to invite people to cycle instead of drive have been wildly successful. Lots of places to park bikes, and wide separated bike lanes, no mingy bits of paint or riding alongside parked cars. People ride because it is the fastest, safest way to get around. Few wear helmets. You also notice how few people are overweight, the city encourages active living. With more people using bikes, the city is quiet….the drum of traffic is also noticeably absent. Its not that Danes don’t drive, they do, but to own a car Is a luxury because of heavy taxes. Trucks are also noticeably absent because deliveries happen at night, and only small trucks can come into the City centre. Cargo is transferred at the edge of the city for urban delivery.

It would take Canadian cities a long time to adopt similar policies, we have built our cities around cars for decades and there isn’t much interest in changing. A visit to Copenhagen reveals just how much we have to learn about building cities in northern climes.

2. Dundas' Parkside School- Mid-Century Modern At Risk
Shannon Kyles

In 1960, Parkside High School won both National and International awards for design and innovative use of materials. The swooping curve of the entrance was created with a revolutionary method for  precast concrete panels with exposed stone. As the BBC, CBC and Netflix producers send their locations managers out to find Mid-century modern sets, Dundas, through the works of the City of Hamilton, is tearing down its best Mid-Century  school because of a comedy of errors.

First the Ontario School Board (OSB) decided that small local schools in Dundas and West Hamilton should be gradually torn down and  replaced by a huge, central school, accessible by bus. The idiocy of that decision is outside the boundaries of this article. So, without noticing that it was an incredible piece of architecture, the OSB left Parkside High School to rot and then closed it. By law, the OSB must offer any land for sale to either the local or the provincial governments before it is handed over for open bidding to the public.

In 1998, the Harris government took a vote of all the citizens in Dundas, Flamborough, Ancaster and Waterdown to see if they wanted to become part of the City of Hamilton. An incredible 95 percent of the populace voted against this, but it seems the vote was rhetorical. Dundas was eaten up by Hamilton. Now, the major decisions concerning Dundas are made by 13 councillors, 12 of whom do not live in Dundas. 

 Dundas has become a destination of choice for people who want to live in a small house or apartment in a very well preserved and maintained small town. Consequently, developers from out of town have been successful in proposing buildings, and sometimes building structures, that exceed the ideal proportions and  destroy the downtown core. Population growth in  Dundas has outpaced growth in other communities, but there is still money to be made.

In an effort to keep out the high rise developments on a prime piece of downtown parkland, our  Dundas Councillor proposed that the City of Hamilton buy the property. Land was needed to preserve the grave yard, and this quick thinking at least saved the park and its beautiful view of the escarpment from being obliterated by High Rise Hell. 

 No one noticed that the front portico of Parkside High School has long been considered one of the architectural icons of Dundas. No Conservation Plan or salvage plan was ever done. The Hamilton Heritage Committee was apparently not involved or not interested. Two or three small groups proposed that the building be converted into condominiums and civic space, but this might have taken time and money. Hamilton just wanted the problem gone.

 With two weeks until the start of the demolition, our Dundas Councillor, on my request,  is asking for quotes to remove the sweeping portico intact. Anyone who has a need for such a beautiful piece of work can contact me. A few of us are trying to work on stalling tactics as the portico is just adjacent to a circular driveway that is to be preserved. If anyone would like to pay to have this portico moved to their location, or, better,  has an idea on how to stall this process and leave it ‘in situ’, I am all ears.


Shannon Kyles


3. Lunenburg Demolition Approved
Brian Arnott

Lunenburg Votes to Demolish Another Heritage Building

For the second time in six years, the Mayor and Council of the Town of Lunenburg have voted to allow the demolition of a heritage building within the UNESCO and National Historic Site area of Old Town.

The building known as the Anderson Barn is specifically identified within the Towns Heritage Conservation District Plan as one of two structures in Old Town having additional heritage value. The assessment by the Towns Heritage Officer further confirmed this value against five criteria.

The unanimous vote by the Mayor and four Councillors was taken after a brief discussion at a special meeting of Council on Wednesday October 5th. The Mayor and three Councillors are standing for re-election on October 15th.

The right to demolish was granted subject to the approval of the new building under municipal design guidelines and the provision of a commemorative plaque.

Councils decision to allow demolition was made with the endorsement of the Towns Heritage Advisory Committee but against the advice of the Lunenburg Heritage Society  an organization which the Town is obligated under by-law to consult.

The Lunenburg Heritage Societys opposition to the demolition was supported by the National Trust for Canada, the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals, a number of distinguished Canadians in the fields of architecture and built heritage and many local citizens.

The Lunenburg Heritage Societys opposition was based, first, on the Towns fundamental obligation to protect its heritage assets and, second, on the technical inadequacy of the application by the developer, Lunenburg Heritage Homes Limited.

No heritage professionals were involved in the developers proposal and those heritage professionals who were asked by the Lunenburg Heritage Society to review the developers submission found that the analysis was superficial and the conclusion was foregone.

None of the claims made by the developer to substantiate his decision to demolish was proven. No attempt was made by the Town through the process which lasted over six weeks to seek or request independent validation of the developers claims.

Lunenburg Heritage Homes will now construct a larger building on the Anderson Barn site to accommodate a residential six-plex designed in a historical style by a retired architect.
This decision to demolish the Anderson Barn has local implications including raising questions about the Towns will and ability to manage the heritage assets in its trust and whether a precedent has been set that no heritage building in Old Town Lunenburg is now safe from demolition.

The process has also pointed out that, while Lunenburg is rich in heritage assets, its heritage literacy is very low. Almost no one on the side of the Town and developer showed any real grasp of heritage conservation practice. Mayor Rachel Bailey, for one, admitted during the public hearing on this matter that she found many of the terms related to heritage conservation confusing.

This decision by a local authority to demolish a building which is an integral part of a National Historic Site may also have implications across Canada, possibly enabling developers to argue that if demolition is allowable in Lunenburg, it should be allowable anywhere.

At the time of writing, only hours after the decision came down, it is not clear what course of action is open to the local, provincial and national heritage communities by way of response. Interested parties may want to contact the Chair of the Lunenburg Heritage Society. ashlee.feener@gmail.com

Brian Arnott

4. Award-Winning Canadian Heritage Conservation Project Featured at IUCN World Conservation Congress
Alexander Temporale

Associate Mark Driedger Presenting at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress

ATA Architects Inc. (ATA) had the honour of sending its Associate, Mark Driedger, to the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii where he presented ATAs award-winning heritage project, the Harding Waterfront Estate (formerly the Holcim Waterfront Estate). The World Conservation Congress is the worlds largest democratic conservation event, meant to focus the expertise and influence of its members into tackling some of the most significant issues of our time. The IUCN draws its members from all over the world and from various fields, including politics, business, science, art and academia. This year, the Congress had over 10,000 participants, including President Barack Obama, NASA, Google, and many of the worlds leading conservation authorities.

ATAs contribution to the Congress was a digital media presentation focused on the Harding Waterfront Estate in Mississauga, Ontario. It was the only architectural project at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, focussing on the efforts made by all parties to conserve the landscape of the estate and its cultural and historical value. The heritage conservation work done within this project has parlayed into success for the property and a boon to the City of Mississauga. ATA is well-known for its expertise and success in conservation work within the Greater Toronto Area and our acceptance into the Congress served as a recognition of the value of heritage to the conservation movement and global sustainability.

ATAs presentation at the Congress, Linking Past, Present, & Future, consisted of current and past photographs of the Estate, Bell Gairdner family videos, explanations of the process, challenges and successes of the project, as well as a full background of the cultural and historical connection the Estate has to the surrounding community. The Harding Waterfront Estate, a relatively small project, was able to make it onto the world stage because both large and small efforts contribute to world conservation.