Goodweather Collective, Roundabouts
"What would a metropolis in the Pacific Northwest look like if urban planners at the turn of the 20th century recognized and exploited the spatial potential of existing old growth trees rather than their perceived resource potential? Employing techniques of photomontage and urban mapping Goodweather takes us on an anachronistic detour. While in the present city of Vancouver, the centre space of roundabouts is given over to a heap of dirt or various sanctioned treatments—community gardens, a monumental rock, and so on—in this “retroprojective” proposal, an alternative vision of the not-so-distant past is offered, one wherein forward-thinking city planners leave an old growth tree at the centre of each future roundabout. With this simple gesture we can envisage an entirely different city, one in which the massive trees are no longer a rarity but instead fundamentally define and shape our movement through the urban fabric of Vancouver. While the singular presence of each tree is in itself remarkable, their collective existence is a legacy comparable to that of Stanley Park, Vancouver’s beloved urban green-space. With this action the city becomes a forest, and the forest a city."
Vancouver has already preserved some of its forest areas (almost all of this is second-growth), made easier to accomplish in a city that is only 150 years old. For example, there is a reasonably large tree in the middle of the road in an alley just down from Vancouver General Hospital; the Endowment Lands provide 14 square kilometres (over 3,400 acres) of forest right in the city; when the above-ground “Skytrain” network was expanded (Vancouver’s equivalent to other cities’ underground/subway/metro/u-bahn/MRT), tracks were built under ground at massive additional cost to preserve some wide grassy medians that run up one of the city’s main streets for 40-45 blocks; and, for the time being at least, there is no construction allowed above a certain altitude on the mountains surrounding the city. The second and last forward-thinking city planning decisions allow for summertime views from any beach in the city of forests turning purple as the sun sets.
I would love to see this use of roundabouts. It might take some time - the oldest old-growth trees in what is now Vancouver were over 1000 years old. The last of the 1000 year old ones fell (naturally) in Stanley Park only in 2007. There are still 600 year old cedars to be found there - just look at the skyline of the park from the downtown core, find the tallest tree and make your way to its base.
Sort of related: Vancouver Museum and Archives’ flickr site, starting with the panoramas from the early 1900s. On the main page there are maps, street plans and many photographs.