As one meanders along the narrow and hilly streets of Bankview, it’s hard not to be struck by the eclectic nature of the streetscape. Century-old, Craftsman-style homes sit alongside 1960s-era, four-storey, walk-up apartment buildings, and swanky new duplexes and infills. Adding softness to the landscape, fifty-foot-tall trees pepper the greenspaces, arching across the boulevards and creating a canopy of enchantment. Steps away, coffee shops, pubs and the boutique shops on 17th Avenue S.W. thrum with the beat of the bustling city.
“It’s really the location that is so appealing,” said Robert Nash, who has been renting a condo in the area for the past five years. He works, lives and plays in his neighbourhood, and often cycles or walks to his office in the downtown core.
He’s not the only one who enjoys the lifestyle advantages the area can offer. Bankview is a renter’s paradise. Close to 76 per cent of the area’s 5,100 residents rent their homes. It’s a young population – 32 marks the average age – and 40 per cent of residents live alone.
“It’s really the location that is so appealing.” – Robert Nash, Bankview resident
However, Bankview wasn’t always a high-density, inner-city neighbourhood. Its roots are in ranching. In 1882, William Nimmons originally purchased the land, which sits on the northwest corner of 14th Street and 17th Avenue S.W., as a cattle ranch and farm. His home – a stately, red-brick, Queen-Anne-revival-style design – is one of Calgary’s iconic landmarks, still proudly gracing the corner of 14th Street and 18th Avenue S.W.
Another example of historical architecture just south of Bankview is the former King Edward schoolhouse, a majestic sandstone building that is currently undergoing an exciting transformation to become cSpace, a social-enterprise arts project.
A collaboration between the Calgary Foundation for the Arts and the Calgary Arts Development Authority, cSpace is all about the three Cs: creativity, community and collaboration. Here, visual artists, filmmakers, photographers, dancers, graphic artists, writers and freelancers work alongside not-for-profit organizations, entrepreneurial free thinkers, university students and professors from the Alberta College of Art and Design.
Thanks to the creative genius of Nyhoff Architecture, the original 1912 building has been reworked and a newly constructed, modernist west wing has been added – filled with theatres, gallery spaces, and meeting and event space.
“We really want to take a look at what good urbanism would look like anchored by an arts organization,” said cSpace president and CEO Reid Henry. “We are really an intersection between arts and everyday life.”
Alkarim Devani of RNDSQR would agree that Bankview is a great place to create innovative new architecture and ways of living. He’s spearheading Grow, a new housing project comprised of 20 lofts, condos and townhomes, all with their own rooftop garden for growing fresh produce and flowers. The rooftop space is also laced with amenities, including beautiful landscaping, walkways, seating areas and barbecues.
“The urban garden has been very attractive to a lot of people, as well as the whole idea of community living,” said Devani.