What is Vancouverism?

On Wednesday, I heard a short CBC piece about an architectural exhibit in London, England on the topic of Vancouverism. It was the first time I’d head the term, so I listened with some interest. The host Jian Ghomeshi interviewed Bing Thom about the exhibit and the concept of Vancouverism. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s a spirit about public space. I think Vancouverires are very, very proud that we built a city that really has a tremendous amount of space on the waterfront for people to recreate and to enjoy.

At the same time, False Creek and Coal Harbour were previously industrial lands that were very polluted and desecrated. We’ve refreshed all of this with new development, and people have access to the water and the views. So, to me, it’s this idea of having a lot people living very close together, mixing the uses. So, we have apartments on top of stores. In Surrey we have a university on top of a shopping centre. This mixing of uses reflects Vancouver in terms of our culture and how we live together.

I did a search in Google, and couldn’t find a Wikipedia article on Vancouverism. I resolved to create one when I found the time. Happily, on Tuesday, somebody already started one. I’ll add this quote.

I also found this short film about Vancouverism:


I also note that Richard has been tagging things with the term for a couple of years.


  1. This is the first I’ve heard of this term too. If you had not explained it, I would have guessed that Vancouverism represents the West Coast lifestyle. You know, being laid back, sipping on lattes, and rollerblading along the seawall.

  2. Hi!
    I went to this as I live in Merry Old England well, London to be exact.. and it was amazing!!
    *warning long comment – I didn’t mean to make it so long but the event was inspiring*
    They held one particular lecture dedicated with regard to your post for Mr. Arthur Ericson.. at RIBA (Royal Institute of Architecture) last Tuesday to kick off the start of Vancouvism at Canada House. It was 50% regarding Mr. Ericson’s work and 50% Vancouverism promotion. For me to find this being presented at the London festival of Architecture, it was a rare treat as they never much refer to North American practices let alone VANCOUVER! Also the promotion of BC lumber was not unexpected, it would be good to see them use wood in their building materials here as it is a rarely used material (I think they secretly laugh at the notion of our using wood for house building, they just don’t seem to respect it enough as a proper building material) (but to note Swedish [land of IKEA] wood, I think, is far cheaper unfortunately and less of a distance to transport). With the housing crunch on at the moment I am hoping that when the new boom happens (2yrs hopefully from now), that by then, the architects here will be aware of our (Vancouverism) building practices and also try to create ‘urban living rooms’ around the world.
    The four speakers at this event were.. Architects Trevor Boddy, Bing Thom, James Cheng, and Engineer Gerry Epp. He himself, Mr. Erickson himself did not attend but I had met him ironically the year before in Cyprus. At this meeting I realized that he not only affected our great city though beautiful works (He created Robson Square, the Court House, SFU, the Museum of Anthropology, the Canadian Embassy in Washington, Lethbridge University to name a few) but that my first real job, which kicked off my life long fascination and appreciation for Architecture was located in 1288 West Pender, The Evergreen Building.
    It was created by him! So beautiful inside and out, mix use zoning, looking back now I should have known that this was his work. I was so pleased to hear it though as he told me that this was his most favorite buildings out of his work when I asked!
    Anyway I wanted to share this small little piece of Vancouver experienced in London. I hope it’s inspiring for our little town to be on the proverbial Map for more than being the perfect place to live and a place to chillax by the sea.
    Ciao for now..

    1. I enjoyed your article, but for one error: Trevor Boddy is not an architect, nor has he been trained to be one. He is an architectural critic. To misrepresent him does a disservice to all architects who bear the responsibilities of that profession.

  3. I saw the exhibit in the Woodwards building during the Olympics.. I find it amusing on some level, but feel the concept is a significant one that deserves to be identifiably packaged. As a coastal BC native, Vancouver defined my “big city” concept – and I find other cities to sometimes feel heavy due to the blunt, broad, massing.

    I don’t recall if this is covered in the exhibit, but I wonder at the role of the Asian skyscraper in the development of Vancouverism.

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