Situated at the main entrance to the bustling city of Vancouver, the Vancouver House stands as a testament to sustainable urban development and innovative design. Its unique location on a previously undeveloped triangular slice of land presented several challenges, which the design team at BIG skillfully navigated to create a residential high-rise that is not only visually stunning but also highly responsive to its environment.
The Vancouver House’s design strategy focuses on sustainability, with considerations for smart growth principles, reduced reliance on automobiles, and the creation of a dynamic sustainable hub. By reclaiming and transforming the spaces under, above, and around the Granville Bridge, Vancouver House offers a venue for public art, community gatherings, and cultural performances, thereby addressing the city’s need for such spaces.
Vancouver House Technical Information
- Architects: BIG Architects
- Location: Vancouver, Canada
- Client: Westbank Projects Corp.
- Topics: Triangular Shapes, Skyscrapers
- Area: 60600 m2
- Project Year: 2020
- Photographs: © Laurian Ghinitoiu
The Vancouver house is a contemporary descendent of the flat iron building in New York City reclaiming the lost spaces for living as the tower escapes the noise and traffic at its base. In the tradition of Flatiron the Vancouver House architecture is not the result of formal excess or architectural idiosyncrasies but rather a child of its circumstances. The trisected site and concerns for neighboring buildings and park spaces.– Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.
Vancouver House Photographs
A Triumph of Sustainable Urban Design and Architectural Innovation
Text by the Architects
Vancouver House is located at the main entrance to Vancouver, exactly where the Granville bridge triforks when it reaches downtown. The resulting triangular slices of land had previously been undeveloped. When engaged by Westbank to design a residential high-rise for the highly complex site, BIG started by mapping the constraints – setbacks from the streets, a 30-meter setback from the bridge, and a neighboring park that had to be protected from shadows. After all the constraints, what was left was a small triangular site nearly too small to build upon.
The 30-meter separation from the bridge was defined as the bare-minimum distance until the building reached 30 meters up in the air, after which it could grow back out – allowing BIG to double the floor plate. As a result, Vancouver House emerges subtly from the ground and expands as it rises, appearing like a Genie let out of the bottle. What seems like a surreal gesture is, in fact, a highly responsive architecture – shaped by its environment.
Vancouver House is part of a new phase in Vancouver’s short but extremely successful history of urban policy. The tower and base are a new interpretation of the local typology deemed “Vancouverism” – a new urbanist podium coupled with a slender tower that seeks to preserve view cones through the city while activating the pedestrian street. The residential tower, in its height and proximity to the creek, is uniquely situated with views of both the water and the mountains, granting visual access to the breadth of Vancouver’s natural surroundings.
As a LEED Platinum building, Vancouver House addresses the community’s desire for truly sustainable urban development. The sustainability strategy began with choosing a location that encompasses smart growth principles and creates a dynamic sustainable hub in a residentially intensive community. Connections to cycling and pedestrian pathways answer neighbors’ needs and reduce reliance on automobile trips.
A model for how to approach urban design, the transformation of the Vancouver House site shows how forgotten spaces under, above, and around infrastructure can be reclaimed by the public and offer spaces for art and community gathering. By transforming the underside of the bridge into a venue for public art, the new urban space responds to the city’s shortage of cultural performance and event spaces. Vancouver House becomes not only a visual and cultural amenity but a symbol of Vancouver’s prioritization of sustainable development, improving the health and well-being of Vancouverites.
Vancouver House Plans
About BIG architect
BIG Architects, also known as Bjarke Ingels Group, is an internationally renowned architecture firm founded in 2005 by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. BIG Architects is known for its bold, forward-thinking approach to architecture, often blending elements of functionality, sustainability, and aesthetics to create unique and eye-catching structures. The firm’s design philosophy centers around a concept called “hedonistic sustainability,” which aims to create sustainable solutions that enhance the quality of life for the people who use them rather than simply focusing on reducing environmental impact. This approach has garnered BIG Architects worldwide recognition and numerous awards for their innovative and groundbreaking work in the field of architecture.
- Partners in Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen, Beat Schenk
- Project Leader: Agustín Pérez-Torres
- Project Manager/Designer: Carl MacDonald, Melissa Bauld
- Team members: Aaron Mark, Alan Tansey, Alex Wu, Alexandra Gustafsson, Alina Tamosiunaite, Amina Blacksher, Aran Coakley, Arash Adel Ahmadian, Armen Menendian, Barbora Srpkova, Ben Zunkeler, Benjamin Caldwell, Benjamin Novacinski, Bennett Gale, Birk Daugaard, Blake Theodore Smith, Brian Foster, Brian Rome, Carolien Schippers, Christopher James Malcolm Jr., Christopher Junkin, Christopher Tron, David Brown, David Dottelonde, Deborah Campbell, Doug Stechschulte, Douglass Alligood, Edward Yung, Elena Bresciani, Filip Milovanovic, Francesca Portesine, Gabriel Hernandez Solano, Gabriel Jewell-Vitale, Hector Garcia, Ivy Hume, Jan Leenknegt, Janice Rim, John Kim, Josiah Poland, Julian Liang, Julianne Gola, Julie Kaufman, Karol Bogdan Borkowski, Kurt Nieminen, Lauren Turner, Lorenz Krisai, Lucio Santos, Marcella Martinez, Martin Voelkle, Matthew Dlugosz, Megan Ng, Michael Robert Taylor, Otilia Pupezeanu, Paula Domka, Phillip MacDougall, Ryan Yang, Sean Franklin, Sebastian Grogaard, Simon Scheller, Spencer Hayden, Taylor Fulton, Terrence Chew, Terry Lallak, Thomas Smith, Tianqi Zhang, Tobias Hjortdal, Tran Le, Valentina Mele, Xinyu Wang, Yaziel Juarbe, Yoanna Shivarova, Zach Walters, Zhifei Xu
- Collaborators: Dialog (Architect), Integral Group, PFS Studio, Buro Happold, Glotman Simpson, James KM Cheng Architects, LMDG, Nemetz & Associates, HLB Lighting Design, BVDA Façade Engineering, Morrison Hershfield, ICON Pacific