Skateboarding, Sprawl and Carbon Control

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 3 March 2019
  • CategoryPlanning, Policy, Research, Transportation

The neighbourhood I grew up in, Burlington, Canada was about 1km by 1km. It was a classic mix of 1970’s social housing towers with townhouses and townhouses with public hallways we called ‘maisonettes’. As a kid we used to play on the street.  Right in the middle of it. There...

Architecture & A Green New Deal

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 19 February 2019
  • CategoryPolicy, Research

“Yes: this will be expensive. Like a war. Or a tax cut for the rich. Or bailing out banks and automakers. Unlike those expenditures (which are never subject to the “but how will we pay for it?” smackdown) this plan will massively increase the tax base, create full employment for...

Thomson Architecture; A Family Legacy, sortof…

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 11 February 2019
  • CategoryEconomy, Research

Architecture is not an easy business. Just as with any career in a creative field, it’s not nearly enough to be talented. My grandfather, George James Valence (GJV) Thomson had an incredible eye, was a skilled craftsman, and had the education of an Architect from both Pratt Institute in NYC,...

Earth Rise Apollo 8

Earth Rise and Architecture, 50 Years Later

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 24 December 2018
  • CategoryEconomy, Policy, Research, Residential

Today is the 50th anniversary of the iconic photo, Earth Rise, captured by the crew aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft in 1968. I was a child of the groovy, mellow, and high-tech 1970’s. The Space Shuttle wouldn’t fly until 1981, but it was promised to follow in the footsteps of...

Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI) for Dummies

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 6 December 2018
  • CategoryBIM, Economy, Research, Residential

We have made this handy calculator that lets you determine the energy performance of your home or building in the units of the most widely used Building Energy energy metric, the TEUI or Total Energy Use Intensity. The units are the amount of all energy sources in Kilowatt Hours (kWh)...

How many Miles per Gallon does your building get?

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 20 November 2018
  • CategoryEconomy, Research, Residential

OK, so buildings don’t move of course, but the funny thing is we have an easy way to evaluate energy performance when we buy a car – why not buildings? Even the flawed Miles per Gallon Standard has been around for at least 100 years, albeit only officially imposed since...

Robot Architect

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 2 January 2018
  • CategoryEconomy, Planning, Research, Residential

If anyone had told me last year that starting in 2018 I would be using a robot to create measured plans of existing buildings, I would think that either a) they are whackos that over-estimate the capabilities of current technology or b) they must assume that I have unlimited funds...

Electric Motorcycles

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 11 December 2017
  • CategoryResearch, Transportation

Transportation architecture is a thing. Vehicle designer is a thing. Vehicle Architect? Nope. But here I will try. My hobbies have always involved going fast on/in a vehicle of some sort. In winter this has been snowboards, skis, even kayaks downhill! On water, windsurfing. On asphalt, bikes, skateboards and electric...

Building Permits, Why Bother?

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 22 November 2017
  • CategoryEconomy, Research

In my 20’s, I worked as a builder to help me get through University. Back then, homeowners hired me based on word-of mouth or through the small construction companies I worked for. Few of the jobs I worked on required building permits. From roofing jobs, to swapping out windows, to...

Dodecahedron Rafael Araujo

From Pythagoras to Pizza

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 3 January 2017
  • CategoryBIM, Economy, Research

Who didn’t love making their first circle with a compass? Although a love of building blocks and form in general appeals to every kindergartener, it was this subtle abstraction of  the ‘geometry’, the graphic description of the rules of form that took hold of my imagination. I imagined that every...

Strong Communities through Affordable Housing

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 30 November 2016
  • CategoryEconomy, Laneway

Ordinary homes have become too expensive for ordinary citizens. The growth of housing costs have far outstripped income growth in recent years, resulting in what is now called the ‘affordability gap’. Many, if not most people will find themselves on the brink of over-extension if they try to find a way to purchase what is on...

Why a BCIN is not an Architect

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 15 November 2016
  • CategoryEconomy, Research

So you are thinking of designing and building a home in the Province of Ontario? You have a number of options and factors to consider when engaging a Designer or Architect and Builder. I’ve been asked more than a few times to explain the difference between Architects, and the other kinds...

A Note on Passivhaus vs. R2000

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 19 November 2015
  • CategoryEconomy, Research

I have lived and practiced green design in Germany, and I witnessed the introduction of the WSVO (Waermeshutzverordnung) firsthand in 1994. These were mandated changes to the levels of insulation required to be placed in the walls, roofs and floors of new buildings. At the time of my first R2000...

Tiny Homes – Are They Legit?

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 11 April 2014
  • CategoryCottages, Planning, Prefab, Residential

    Tiny homes are everywhere in popular media and the internet, and the meme has persisted for well over a decade now. With click-bait headlines like, “Man Builds Tiny Log Cabin For $500” and “You Can Turn A $2000 Shipping Container Into An Epic Off-Grid Home!” we get seduced into...

90,000km Later, Do I still Love Tesla?

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 11 April 2014
  • CategoryEconomy

I have wanted an electric car since I was 16. Global warming and pollution was at the top of my mind. I biked everywhere, and imagined that in a future not so far off – EV’s would be widely available. Fast forward 26 years. Yes, that is how long it...

The Eco Trailer Park

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 11 April 2014
  • CategoryCottages, Eco Trailer Park, Planning, Prefab, Residential

WHILE SMART GROWTH AND ECO-DEVELOPMENTS HAVE BECOME PART OF THE MAINSTREAM PLANNING DIALOGUE, TRAILER PARKS DEMONSTRATE A FORM OF SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS THAT ALREADY EXIST.  THE OFT-SNUBBED TRAILER PARK IS PROBABLY THE MOST OVERLOOKED FORM OF SUSTAINABLE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING, A TRUE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.  WITH A...

Reinventing the Trailer Park

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 9 April 2014
  • CategoryEco Trailer Park, Planning, Prefab, Residential

In 2009, Lisa Selin Davis wrote for Grist.org, which the Guardian subsequently picked up – article here –  about my vision for a greener trailer park – which I see as the future of suburban development for a number of reasons; the footprint is lighter on the earth, there is...

Structural Insulated Panel & Finish Systems – (SIPFS)

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 10 November 2009
  • CategoryResearch

INNOVATION #1:. SIPFS: A Structural Insulated Panel and Finish System consolidating primary structure, thermal envelope and finishing system in a durable, modular system that assembles rapidly and easily on-site PROBLEM: Conventional construction is often per- formed on-site where builders are at the mercy of the elements as well as light...

The Green Machine

  • AuthorAndy Thomson
  • Date 8 November 2002
  • CategoryEconomy, Prefab, Urban RV

THINK GOING OFF THE GRID MEANS A BIG CASH OUTLAY FOR SECLUDED LAND AND SOLAR PANELS? THINK AGAIN. VANCOUVER ECO-ACTIVISTS HAVE FIGURED OUT A WAY TO GO EASY ON THE EARTH, AND THE POCKETBOOK. July-August, 2002, by Rebecca Atkinson EXPENSIVE AND EXCLUSIVE, GREEN HOUSING IS TOO OFTEN RESERVED for those...