Location / Vancouver
Project Type / Heritage Renovation
Size / 2700 sf


When approached by the owners of an aging three story vernacular house on Vancouver’s east side, the architects determined that to maximize the client’s desire for floor space, the answer was not to tear down, but to renovate. As the existing layout of the house consists of sleeping on the ground floor and living on the second floor, the decision was made to invert this programming. By flipping the living and sleeping quarters, the inhabitants are given a strong connection to the street, while discretion for the private areas upstairs is reinforced with screened shutter windows. A series of inexpensive, nail-on windows are proposed for both budgetary concerns and as a means of striking order on what was an otherwise uncomposed facade.

With ceiling heights favoring the original layout of the house, the proposed design lifts the upper stories and rests them on new exposed concrete foundations with a concrete block masonry core. The original second floor structure is left untouched, with the joists and underside of decking left exposed to the ground level living quarters in homage to the history of the house. Conduits are similarly exposed, embracing the honesty of the construction. Humble plywood panels are used as wall treatment, a material that also provides a motif for furniture and millwork, reducing and simplifying the material pallet. Walking up the central stairs you are wrapped in a world of red stained paneling. Handrail standoffs are intentionally coordinated to plank and stair dimensions. What is at first glance a rough and bare architectural experience is unexpectedly contrasted with sophisticated but elemental detailing.

Living in this house you are not meant to feel as though it is unfinished, but to acknowledge the ever-changing life of architecture and the life within architecture, to celebrate the process and evolution of their mutual construction.