Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What Happened to the Creamy Filling?

What Happens When the Filling Disappears?

Will Cities Become Shells?

Did you know that houses have a lifespan?

There is a lifespan for buildings. They are built to last a given number of years on average. Perhaps it is 75 years, perhaps 50, perhaps 100, but they do have a lifespan. I am not sure about the lifespan of current residential construction, but I suspect many residences built since the Second World War were built with a 75 year lifespan. I am not sure what happens when a building exceeds this lifespan.

I know that there are buildings aging with grace and good upkeep that have become heritage buildings. But I know others don't and have been torn down or rebuilt. However, since WWII there have been huge residential districts where the whole district has been built over a period of perhaps 5 years. What happens to those districts when nearly all the houses reach the end of their functional lifespan at the same time?

I don't have any solutions of course and haven't heard too much of it being a problem. Perhaps it isn't one and something that takes care of itself?

I just remember hearing how houses had a lifespan and was surprised -- thinking they were immortal for some reason. I guess it might be because of all the heritage homes I have seen. The only "falling down" sorts of houses I have seen were abandoned ones.

I do imagine if you own a house you might come upon walls with studs that need replacement because they have rotted, or plumbing that needs to be redone. You might renovate and replace whole walls already and know what is within. Foundations might need to be re-poured. I think that buildings once lasted longer and districts were not built up all at once. Neighbourhoods maybe grew a bit at a time?

We do see apartment blocks come down in groups, but that is because it is time to replace them with newer construction -- the old ones are no longer viable. That works with rental buildings, but what of the more modern idea of strata-condo buildings where each owner might have to be bought out before a building comes down?

So you have a city growing outwards and the core is gradually a cluster of uninhabitable buildings destined for destruction, and whole neighbourhoods might be ready for wrecking ball... what will replace them? I have seen some whole blocks replaced with "monster houses" -- houses that are outsized to the lots -- built to the maximum outmoded bylaws might allow -- which don't suite the character of the neighbourhood at all.

I know that cities that do plan, are working on actual bylaws that fight things like those "monster houses". At the same time they work to solve problems of increased population, transportation, and other pressures by intelligently increasing population density while keeping neighbourhood character.

I don't think that some neighbourhoods will end up like a hollow left if you squeezed the filling out of a doughnut when the houses have reached retirement ages. Land is far too valuable... still the transition will be... is interesting.

~ Darrell


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