Celebration New Town: the residential villages

So, as shown yesterday, they did a good job of  downtown Celebration, building in flexibility, growth, and finely mixed uses. But every city is more than its downtown or mixed use mainstreet. These commercial places are backed up by the primarily residential hinterland. Are these simply more traditional suburbs or can new urbanism successfully mimic the more naturally evolved pre-1940’s neighbourhoods  urbanists love? Over the next few posts, lets look at several  residential neighborhoods in Celebration.

The first neighbourhood is Sienna, part of the South [quadrant] Village. Once again, let’s talking about pictures (and video links too !):

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Above: Sienna neighbourhood is close to the freeway and one of the entrances to Disney World (in the opposite direction from Celebration), and this tower reminds us of who rules the Kingdom.

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Above: along the busy collector street Waterside Drive the houses are set back from the busy local road, there being a boulevard, sidewalk, another boulevard, and local sidewalk in front of the townhouses. These towns have a room on the ground floor by their front doors, but most of the house is on level 2 and 3. The closest thing I have seen to these in Ottawa is the new Minto development opposite Centrepointe Hall. Around the back …

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Above: somewhat less Arcadian  the backs of these houses is all garage and short driveways opening off courtyards. These courtyards, however, were well populated by kids playing … hockey (well, it was midwinter) and skateboarding. I’m in a minority position here, but I feel urban parkland is vastly over-rated and we need to make better use of the spaces closer to home, and that kids prefer paved surfaces to grass anyday. Celebration is very intensively landscaped; no area looked “leftover”.

Celebration has abundant parkland, and these fingers of land while pleasant and green, also serve to cut off neighbourhoods from each other and make distances less attractive to walk except for recreational purposes. That’s the same reason Barrhaven might have the same density as the Glebe, but will never function as well because too much of the space separates places rather than connects them.

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Above: Low rise apartment buildings are closely interspersed with ground-oriented town houses, making for a varied streetscape and increasing the population while building-in a variety of housing types and family sizes. Census data reveals that there are even some low-income households in Celebration.

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Above: is this two houses (ie semi detached)? Or is it three, with the third front door on the left end of the building? Or is it apartments, with a door to an upstairs corridor?

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above: more of that fine mix of housing types. Each neighbourhood has a selection of related architectural styles, these being Georgian (Federal), Colonial, and Spanish  As the streets go on, the styles change, so blocks didn’t feel all the same, but were related. Much like our older neighbourhoods  where similar styles and materials predominate and there are subsequent infills and modifications made. But in Celebration, there is never a Kariouk-moment.

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Above: its hard to tell again how many units are here. There is a front door on the left centre to the ground floor unit, and deeply recessed is another front door, presumably for an upper unit. But there might be more doors…

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Above: Many of the streets are kept narrow. In this case, there are rows of houses on  a one-way-pair that goes away from the viewer and swings around the centre park space and up the other side, a bit like a crescent but easier to read. Note curbs on one side only.

fla jan 2013 173Above: this one-way street has recessed parking bays, and houses close to the road surface which isn’t much more than a lane. The City of Ottawa is rebuilding a series of short dead end streets in Dalhousie (Lorne, Perkins, Empress Streets running off Albert).  I’ve tried to interest them in doing something different than two-lanes+parking+curbs+sidewalks standard street, but alas, to no avail  even when I point out that alternate designs might be cheaper to construct and maintain. There is a standard street design and one size must fit all.

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Above: the wing wall masks the tell-tale slope of garages. This satellite dish, on a portable mount, was a rare sight.

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Above: not all streets in Celebration are finished the same way. This one is curb-free, thus informal, with recessed parking bays and a single central catch basin  a tried-and-true design from the medieval days.

Here’s a video link to a 43 second panorama shot taken in Sienna:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuHdxb-TW2g.

[On my computer the video link isn’t in blue, so I cannot click and go there instantly, but I can highlight it, right click, and go there that way]

Now at the end of the street shown above was a fenced enclosure. Hmm. Closer inspection revealed…

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Yup, it’s the self-serve garbage compactor point. Somehow it comes out a lot better looking than those in townhouse complexes (especially if OCH houses) in Ottawa. The dumpster point was on a busy pedestrian and dog-walker path than led to the adjacent village, but it looked as if the planners envisioned it being mostly used by residents as they drive out of the community and drop off their trash via the convenient pull over zone.

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Below: Clusters of houses also shared a rec building and outdoor pool complex.

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above: view from the ungated tot lot through the gate to the enclosed pool area and clubhouse that serves the Sienna cluster.

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If you made it this far, you might be interested in this additional youtube clip also made in Sienna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C485jU3fg4w. At the 8 second mark you’ll see two freestanding garages and gateway from the community out onto the arterial running parallel to the freeway.

Pedestrian links in Ottawa are begrudged rather than celebrated, don’t you think?

There was an awful lot of nice features in Celebration that I wanted to take home to Ottawa. They might need some modification for our climate, but they were adaptable. Next up, another neighbourhood.