Constant Neighbourhood Character: Evolving Architectural Forms

205 Crichton Street - 15 Dufferin Road, All Green Projects, Build Projects, Design Projects, Plan Projects

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Unlike the urban monocultures more common outside of the city’s core, New Edinburgh is characterized by the human scaled relationships between elements of the public realm and the architectural forms resultant from almost 175 years of development, and redevelopment.  New Edinburgh’s history is a narrative of changes to individual buildings, within the context of a consistent neighbourhood character.

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Crichton Street North

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Crichton Street South

The intention of the Ontario Heritage Act Part 5 designation of New Edinburgh’s Heritage Conservation District is to maintain the character of the neighbourhood.  The applicable part of the Ontario Heritage Act is not intended to preserve individual buildings.  (A Part 4 designation would do so.)

Proposed changes to individual buildings within the neighbourhood’s historic core are evaluated in reference to the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District Plan (HCD).  This document provides limited references to characteristic elements of the neighbourhood.  These include:

“A lively mix of building types dating from as early as the 1840s until the present… Building types range from… row houses, single family houses and doubles to small apartment buildings…  The green, tree-lined character… typified the streets… street trees, laneways and large landscaped back yards… create a pleasant green atmosphere.”

The neighbourhood’s character is defined by the relationship between borders of public spaces and the subdivision of private properties within them.  Most land has been developed (and infilled) with two and three story buildings, with both flat and sloped roofs, most with covered front porches, located close to the street, on 30’ wide lots, shaded by mature street trees, with parking off of rear lanes.

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Dufferin Road East

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Dufferin Road West

The New Edinburgh neighbourhood is one of the most desirable places to live in Ottawa because of the association of these character defining elements: a relationship between many components, not because of any single component.  The neighbourhood also attracts new residents because of its central location, its history and its future.  The oldest neighbourhoods in any city are often closest to the region’s economic, service and social core, bringing their inhabitants superior levels of access.  It is for this reason that my wife and I were first drawn to New Edinburgh when we moved there in 2009.  Older neighbourhoods are also more likely to include properties that require improvement (especially in the realm of resource efficiency) and that present good opportunities for investment.  It is this prospect that motivates  some buyers to contribute to the reinvigoration of places like New Edinburgh.

Prior to purchasing 205 Crichton Street I recognized an opportunity to demonstrate how the energy efficiency of a deteriorating 70 year old building within a heritage conservation district could be improved to a level well beyond the requirements of the Ontario Building Code, while also making significant contributions to the character of the neighbourhood.  Although the consultation and approvals process required to allow the project to move forward will be very time consuming (at least 6 months long), without any guarantee of a desirable outcome; it remains my intention to complete the infill development project started by Leonard Boehmer in 1945.

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