This is a fascinating interview with landscape architect Michael van Valkenburgh (conducted in association with the BMW-Guggenheim Lab). We've been spending a lot of time in our lab of late trying to figure out what works and what doesn't work in urban greenspace. We're working at the level of neurons and psychophysics. It's great to hear some important truths from a master practitioner. I love what he has to say about the importance of hills. There aren't many where I live.
I've always thought that if I could live anywhere in Canada, it would be in Vancouver. In fact, I just got through telling one of my kids this very thing yesterday. After I visited the city for the first time I remember telling someone that I was really surprised that any other city in Canada had been able to attract any residents at all. So a newspaper article purporting to take some of the shine off of West coast life is eye-catching.
But the article, from the Toronto Star, vaguely makes it sound as though urban loneliness is a Vancouver-centric problem. It isn't and that's not at all what the study showed. What it does point out though is that conventional measures of "livability" may not place enough weight on the importance of social cohesion. It also reinforces an old finding in environmental psychology that social isolation can be a problem in high-rises. And that, apparently, if you move to Winnipeg, you will never have to cook your own dinner.