2 780 SF
Interior and Exterior Renovation

We are very excited about the conversion of this Vancouver Special in East Van’s Renfrew-Collingwood area, zoned RS-1, into a contemporary multigenerational home. It will incorporate two generations immediately, with separate suites for the home owners and their parents, and will be flexible enough to accommodate the next generation as well, when the owners have children of their own.  During the design process we addressed the needs of each group and took special care that each suite was designed with lots of light, high ceilings, and large rooms.

We wanted the lower level suite to feel like a first class space, not a secondary suite in a basement.  To achieve this, we re-purposed the space of one bedroom on the main floor, and gave this area and volume to the garden level suite.  This allowed us to create a new massing element on the front elevation and to provide the garden suite with 12 foot high ceilings in their living room, with huge windows looking out toward the mountains.  The high walls give them plenty of space to display their collection of beautiful kimonos.  The garden suite is accessed via a private entry with a walkout patio where the landscaping steps down organically to meet it.  Windows at desk height overlook this outdoor living space so that there is a connection to the outside when seated, where the home owner’s mother can create her artistic works of calligraphy in the natural light.

As lovers of all things ‘Vancouver Special’, a key factor driving the design was to respect and continue the original clean lines of the Vancouver Special while having fun modernizing its shape and form … and providing a bit of additional architectural ‘oompf’ to the street front.  As such, when we expanded upwards with a new half storey to gain more floor area to accommodate both families, we set it back from the front of the house so as not to increase the perceived size of the front elevation.  This was especially pertinent on this sloped lot where the street front is significantly lower than the house entrance.  The addition provides the owners with a luxurious and private master suite looking out at the unobstructed views of the North Shore mountains and a field of blue skies.

At the new addition we’ve provided large windows to the north views, and also on the south and west to provide lots of natural light and carefully framed views.  We studied different sized louvers and fins and modeled them in 3D to accurately assess the shade that they would generate at different times of the year, in order to address solar heat gain.  This is an example of our thorough design process which carefully considers all aspects of our designs, balancing beauty and function.

The split-level entrance with iconic double height glazing at the entrance is one of our favorite features of this variation of Vancouver special. Our renovated design accentuates the entry element with a new wood door and windows which fly past the new lower flat roof.  The large horizontal windows on the front elevation were maintained, as they provide excellent views, and are archetypal of Vancouver Specials.  We also maintained the roof line over half of the house.  Through exploration of the attic framing we discovered that the roof was framed without trusses and so we were able to remove the existing flat drywall ceiling and put in a vaulted ceiling characteristic of many Vancouver Specials.  Our final homage to the Vancouver Special was the reuse of the carport area on the back elevation of the house as an extension to the basement suite with a walk-out patio above.

The owner’s modern aesthetic is expressed through a open plan living spaces with vaulted ceilings and simple wood accents.

Learn more about the Multigenerational Vancouver Special on our blog:

BUILDEX 2014: Residentialism

Vancouver Special House Tour 2017

Builder: Vertical Grain Projects

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