Artful urban living in a time of progressive densification
The Vanglo house has been designed as a truly urban house for a compact inner city infill site, centrally located at 135 East 17th Street in Main Street area of Vancouver. The site is 66’ wide but only 44’ deep with a permissible density of 1,850sf for two tenants/ families with a 1,350sf 3BR main home and a 500sf 1BR rental garden suite.
The house isboth a departure and continuation of the typical Vancouver houseform and typology. A simple abstract unified volume is formed and detailed to engage the passerby observer and owner / tenant into a layered dialogue. Aspects of the organization of the Vancouver Special, neighbour-hood and district by law regulations and roof forms, urban street front porch elements and com-pact multi tenant occupancy have been distilled in a single clear dynamic building shape.
The body continually transforms from horizontal and cantilevered on the west side to vertical and grounded on the east side.
As a form of urban art, the white creased body is detailed with concrete fibre panel facadeto un-ifyits form, while blurring typical expressions of floor levels into an abstraction. The windows fur-ther emphasize this abstract expression and strategically perforate the skin to mediate privacy in direct correlation to the functionality of the rooms behind.
The roof has been designed like an inverted boat hull, constructed with wooden ribs that free span the 17’ width of the building and create a 14’ high upper level living room. This generous spatial experience, not unlike a fully liberated attic, compensates for the required compactness given by the limited density.
In addition, the house’s inverted vertical organization with the living room at the top provides a delightful living/play/entertainment room placed into thetree canopy that seamlessly extends the main family space to the upper deck, effectively doubling up the living space with a threshold free fully retractable folding glass wall.
The design approach providessuch essentialadaptability and flexibility to changing living conditions by providing clear span spaces throughout. Views back to Main Street, along 17th Street, into the tree canopy and the neighbouring backyards have been carefully conceived. Access to daylight on 2-4 sidesin all rooms while mitigating privacy with access to outdoor living provide essential qualities for urban dwelling on a small urban infill site.
The urban response of the design also evolves social aspects of urban livingprovidinga contemporaryfront porch and large stoop like entry stair.
In summary, the design of the house seeks to link the historic values of the City into an urban fu-ture, mediate various scales of the city’s fabric with the lives of future occupants and do so with an authentic and performance driven architecture.
The Vanglo house was designed to meet high sustainability standards. The previous house structure has been carefully deconstructed and largely recycled, the new house is Energy Star compliant, has triple glazed ‘super’ windows and a high performance envelope. The house is very compact with an emphasis on adaptability for a choice of family, office, recreational or income rental uses.