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Old 02-17-2014, 03:56 AM
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
354 posts, read 682,426 times
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The mass housing tower suburbs are rather common in Europe during the post war boom. Whole neigbourhoods of high rise concrete towers were built during that period, often outside of the city cores.

Näverlursgatan by Eva the Weaver, on Flickr

I know that some North American cities have adapted similar planning principle during that period. I wondered if there are any cities in which these neigbourhoods (or some people would refer some of these area as commie blocks?) are particular prominent in USA/Canada/Australia/New Zealand? And if there are examples or pictures of such. And which cities are dominated by predominantly single family dwellings?
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:54 AM
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Very common throughout the Toronto area.

These areas were former suburbs of Toronto, but now a part of the city limits

North York





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Old 02-17-2014, 05:08 AM
Location: Brisbane
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Chatswood and Parramatta in Sydney are possibly the best two examples in Australia. Though the concept is quite new. You would be hard pressed to find examples of the same boring looking apartment block built over and over again anywhere in australia.



Though most of the high rise development in Australia still occurs in and around the city cores, just spreading out a bit more.

Last edited by danielsa1775; 02-17-2014 at 05:52 AM..
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:41 AM
Location: Sydney
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Sydney has a couple of suburban hubs of density out side of the main downtown. Here's an aerial of the metro area that shows many of them.

The beach you see in the foreground is Manly Beach.

From the left to right the areas of high rise density:
Bondi Junction, the CBD, North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood.

Sydney Aerial Coastline by pablo808, on Flickr

Also looking from the other direction out in the west, here is Rhodes.

And Parramatta


Originally Posted by danielsa1775 View Post

Though most of the high rise development in Australia still occurs in and around the city cores, just spreading out a bit more.
Sydney is a exception to that, at the moment most development is happening in various suburban hubs. Because the core of the city is dense and expensive. Melbourne for example has a lot more room to build in their downtown.
Parramatta is to change dramatically, the local government is encouraging development and has proposed a 336m residential tower, and two 200m office towers to get the suburb off it's feet. The 336m tower is fittingly called Aspire.
Here's a render of Parramatta by 2024.

But I don't think the west will ever have the desirability or urbanism of the east.


Sydney on the harbour by yewenyi, on Flickr

Last edited by Rozenn; 02-17-2014 at 05:25 PM.. Reason: Copyright
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:29 AM
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In Sydney I guess those 'commie blocks' of the 60's and 70's aren't too prevalent within the metropolitan area. You'll find the majority of them are contained within areas closer to the central downtown. Eg:





And a few from Melbourne, again closer to downtown:




Instead the vast majority of apartments from that era that have been built in Sydney are in the form of suburban 3-5 storey walk up 'unit blocks'. These are very common and quite often you'll find streets and areas throughout the metropolitan area that are covered with these.




Otherwise, the residential high rises and apartment blocks in suburban Sydney are generally newer and can vary somewhat in appearance. I'd say they're mostly from the 80's till now. Quite a few here (keep in mind though some of the images here are already quite outdated):












Hope that was enough

Sydney, like just about every other North American or Australian city is generally a sprawling city so high rises and apartments are usually built in clusters. In Sydney's case almost all high rises are built around suburban centres or transport hubs. However, like many other cities in the world, Sydney is currently undergoing a shift from suburban to higher density living and is in the midst of heavy apartment construction and plans so you can expect apartments and high rises to be much more widespread.

Though most of the high rise development in Australia still occurs in and around the city cores, just spreading out a bit more.
Again, Sydney is traditionally the exception to that being that it's built around a network of satellite cities and suburban hubs. Though it's good to note that all Australian cities are densifying and high rises and apartment blocks will become much more common throughout Australia in the near future. Eg. just last week they approved this 36 storey development in Melbourne in a suburb about 15kms away from the central downtown: http://imageshack.com/a/img577/6331/1qiu.jpg

Last edited by ciTydude123; 02-17-2014 at 11:58 AM..
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:34 AM
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
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Co-Op City in the Bronx.

Although the Bronx is not considered a suburb proper, Co-Op City was built as a residential community mainly for people who commuted to Manhattan to work.

It is an interesting place, kind of set apart from the rest of the area. When I was a kid it was Jewish and Italian, now it is mostly Black and Latino, but it looks like the next wave of residents are mainly Slavic, Russian and Ukrainian, I guess.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:34 PM
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
354 posts, read 682,426 times
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Thank you for all the info! I have seen some of them (mostly from the air) before but haven't had the chance to really look them up and read up on some of their history.

Many of these neighbourhoods in Europe didn't quite work out as planned, and has been through some sort of gentrification in the past 10-20 years or so. I am always curious if there are any parallel developments elsewhere.

Are there any other cities that have prominent housing blocks like these? It is always nice to check them out in pictures
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:10 PM
Location: Canada
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There are a few neighbourhoods like this in some inner ring Montreal suburbs, here's a few, mostly dating from the 80's actually. They tend to be a working class housing form, and generally consist of rental units. This neighbourhood dates to the 80's.


This one I think is a little bit more recent, possibly a mix of 90's and 2000's.


Overall, this housing form is much less common in Montreal than in Toronto and a few other Ontario cities, more midrise apartment suburban districts, like this, were popular.


I think that what's really interesting about Canadian high rise residential suburbs isn't the older commie block stuff that we have in common with Europe, but rather the new high rise residential suburbs that we're building now which is very different from almost anything in Europe, as far as I can tell. Some examples would be these neighbourhoods in suburbs of Vancouver.




These are more likely to include retail or townhouse bases as they try to incorporate elements of traditional urbanism, and point towers are more common than slab designs. Here's some from Toronto:




Montreal's are a little different and there's fewer of them. They retain more of the commie block elements.

This is a new one under construction:

Here's one newly built in a suburb. It is very close to a traditional commie block design, has less glass, and has none of the more urban additions like retail or townhouses with close setbacks, and is thus quite different from the other Canadian examples IMO.



All of these newer Canadian examples I showed are more likely to be apartments that are individually owned, rather then being apartment buildings.

Last edited by BIMBAM; 02-18-2014 at 10:18 PM..
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Old 02-19-2014, 03:30 AM
284 posts, read 331,384 times
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And just a few extras from Sydney:

A few examples of suburban apartment blocks:



And newer apartment blocks like these are beginning to rapidly replace the single detached house in areas that were traditionally dominated by them. Remember, these images from google earth are already quite dated having not been updated since 2009:






And just for fun here's a small community that was established out in the fringes not too long ago. This has somewhat become a model community for planners in Sydney.

And finally would just like to point out an interesting difference in definitions between North America and Australia. If I'm not mistaken, in North America 'condominiums' the name given to apartments which are privately owned, while 'apartments' usually refer to the ones which are rented out. In Australia, the terms 'apartments', 'units' or 'flats' etc. might have a few colloquial connotations each but generally they have the same meaning whether it's rented or purchased. 'Condo' is rarely, or perhaps never used in Australia.

Last edited by ciTydude123; 02-19-2014 at 03:53 AM..
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:19 PM
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There are probably upwards of 1,500 hi-rise residential towers (both commie block apartments and condos) in Toronto's inner (former boroughs) and outer (905 area) suburbs.
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