Hobbit Houses

I’ve always been curious about the flat-roofed one-storey houses that are sprinkled throughout many of Montreal’s neighbourhoods. Rather than traditional bungalows, they look more like growth-stunted plexes that are missing their upper floors. Last Friday’s Montreal Gazette featured a nice feature by Susan Semenak on the houses, looking both at their history and their current […]

Posted in: Architecture, Canada, Heritage and Preservation, History, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Hobbit Houses , ,

Life in a Cage

Click on the image above to watch an audio slideshow I didn’t even notice the smell until my friend Will McCallum pointed it out — I was too busy contemplating what it would be like to spend my nights in a cage set inside a one-room apartment with ten other men (not to mention the […]

Redeeming the Vancouver Special

A block of Vancouver Specials. Photo by Jason Vanderhill It usually takes a generation or two for maligned building styles to win new appreciation — or even any sort of appreciation at all. That’s certainly the case with the Vancouver Special, a ubiquitous type of house that has long been considered an eyesore for its […]

Hong Kong Doorways: Houseboats

For all the glitz of its office towers and the sheer triumph of its gargantuan housing estates, Hong Kong is still inextricably linked to the ocean that surrounds it. Fresh fish is a staple of Cantonese cuisine and, throughout Hong Kong, dozens of villages and neighbourhoods still rely on the fishery. The Aberdeen Harbour is […]

Tung Tau Estate

North Americans and Europeans have an almost natural aversion to Modernist housing projects. They’re very much maligned in our popular culture, often for good reason: generations of official neglect and social marginalization have left many of them in a desperate state. In Hong Kong, though, a large chunk of the population lives in housing estates, […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Tung Tau Estate , , , , ,

Shelter: Life in Habitat 67

Shelter is a weekly Montreal Gazette series that peeks into the lives of ordinary apartment-dwelling Montrealers. This installment looks at an apartment in Moshe Safdie’s iconic Habitat 67, inhabited by Margaret Somerville, the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law. The apartment consists of four “cubes” covering 2,700 square feet, with […]

Living in a Laneway

Abandoned laneway triplex near St. Louis Square This summer, while wandering through one of the sidestreets between Prince Arthur and Sherbrooke, I veered off into a laneway. Expecting to find some interesting graffiti, a picturesque clothesline or maybe some discarded furniture, I was surprised to come across an entire triplex at the intersection of two […]

Posted in: Architecture, Canada by Christopher DeWolf 4 Comments , , ,

Shelter: A Home, For Now

Shelter is a weekly Montreal Gazette series that peeks into the lives of ordinary apartment-dwelling Montrealers. Well, my first impression is that it’s small but very bright. Marcus Benigno: It’s very airy, very bright. Bright makes things look bigger. What appealed to you when you first saw this apartment? Benigno: The most important part was […]

Posted in: Canada, Interior Space by Christopher DeWolf 2 Comments , ,

One-Storey Houses

Montreal developed as a geographically disparate patchwork of independent municipalities. Many of these old towns and suburbs were long ago absorbed into the city, but traces of their past character can still be seen in their streets. Last week, Guillaume St-Jean wrote on Spacing Montreal about three one-storey buildings in Villeray that will be demolished […]

Home Sweet Flophouse

A single-room occupancy hotel in Vancouver Today’s Guardian features an article on a new generation of Japanese — most of them young men — unable to afford homes. They spend their days either unemployed or working at menial jobs; at night, they float between 24-hour internet cafés and capsule hotels. “According to a recent government […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Canada, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Home Sweet Flophouse ,

Fort McMurray Goes Supernova

Oilsands refinery in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Photo by Chad Young VBS.tv, the online documentary arm of Vice Magazine run by Spike Jonze, has a thought-provoking documentary called Toxic Alberta available to view for free (in 15 segments, with some interruptions for ads). The film touches on the extreme environmental impact of tar sands operations; the […]

Shelter: Moving Out Without Leaving Home

Shelter is a weekly Montreal Gazette series that peeks into the lives of ordinary apartment-dwelling Montrealers. I was surprised when I came in. It’s not a typical Montreal duplex layout. The front is what I expected, but the back is very open-concept, with no walls between the kitchen and the living room. Marie-Louis Letendre: Well, […]

Posted in: Canada, Interior Space by Christopher DeWolf 1 Comment ,

Finding the Light in Tokyo

On my last trip to Tokyo I could not help but remember how important it was when living there to choose an apartment with sufficient light — something I now take for granted since I moved to Los Angeles. When I first moved to Tokyo, I looked at an apartment in the building on the […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Interior Space by Donal Hanley Comments Off on Finding the Light in Tokyo ,

Nanaimo’s Shack Island

The last thing you’d expect to see in Nanaimo, while driving down Hammond Bay Road in the city’s northern sprawl, is an island full of shacks. Yet there it is, just past the waterfront mansions, next to a bucolic park named Pipers Lagoon. The island, which is accessible at low tide, appears to contain at […]

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