Week of August 21, 2009

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Thanks Leo! Don’t for get to take lots of pictures now and after so we can have a case study session on your project next year.

    This week I listened to this lecture http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bydesign/stories/2009/2639601.htm by Professor Phillip Goad about urban densisty and the rethinking of Austrailian suburbs. It contains an interesting discussion of courtyards.

  • Paul C

    Well said.

    Thanks again Leo. As many have indicated already, please keep in touch with your project’s progress and best wishes for your success.

  • leo


    I found this little talk on backyards very interesting. My suspicion is that the transition from front to back yard living has a lot to do with cars, as well as the change from one to two car families. While it is what I have requested for my own house, I do wonder about the effect backyard orientations have on streetscapes. When was the last time anyone saw people just sitting on a front porch watching the world go by? Children playing in a front yard is a rarity these days (too many child abductors to worry about now). My fear is that the front yard has become the equivalent of the formal living room: an obligatory showpiece that is never used.

    My brother took me on a tour of an Eichler neighbourhood once. While I love the houses with their large rear oriented glass facades and interior courtyards, I have to say that the streetscape more closely resembled a row of unwelcoming bunkers.

  • John Brown


    Your analogy of the front yard and the formal living room is an apt one – particularly in new suburban communities with front drive garages.

    I think the issue of a lack of connection with the street has to do with many things. First, is a space like a porch in which people can sit. Second, is a community with enough going on that people will actually walk to – this can be shopping, recreational activities, or even mass transit stops. Third, is a pleasant safe streetscape in which it is pleasant to walk.

    This is the situation in my neighborhood just outside of downtown Calgary. There is a strong culture of front yard gardens and small terraces in which people sit. There are no front drive garages and lots of trees along the sidewalk. People walk to get somewhere not just for fun. AND most houses have really nice backyards that get used all the time.

  • Terri

    Your street sounds wonderful. I live in a semi-rural area, beside a forest, so different than your neighbourhood. People walk around this area, because there are numerous trails, but most drive 5km to the nearest town or further to get necessities.

    Down in Victoria, though, you don’t see many neighbourhoods where people sit out front–possibly, while taking a break from gardening, you might meet your neighbour. More often, it seems, people are either out back or off somewhere else, riding bicycles, sailing, kayaking, hiking, shopping, or what have you.

  • James Scott


    Unfortunately the trend I’ve seen in my neck of the woods has been close in the porch, plant a big hedge and only enter and leave the property via the car. Once safely inside draw the blinds and only peak out if there’s a disturbance.

    What I also find interesting is the the front porch ends up being storage for junk and the side or back door closest to the car becomes the main entrance.

    I guess it’s hard to spend the entire day watching TV or surfing on the net when you’re on the front porch engaging your friends and neighbours and enjoying the out-of-doors.

    This is a great example of a before and after front porch. Too bad we don’t see this trend more often.