BUILDEX kicked off Architecture Day with a packed house at the seminar entitled “The Essence of the West Coast Spirit“.  The lecture provided an overview of the West Coast Spirit aesthetic from its early beginnings as West Coast Modernism to its current unnamed incarnation, including fresh examples of architectural innovation within BC’s unique environment. One SEED’s ‘Ridiculously Small (eco-) Footprint Laneway House‘ was featured in the presentation as an example of design that is pioneering a new approach to density in Vancouver.  Our compact home design continues the legacy and language of West Coast Modernism while incorporating more contemporary forms, and addressing the evolving concept of what a single family home can be.

The Architectural Historian Harold Kalman gave a fascinating  presentation on the origins of West Coast Style.  I won’t do his work the disservice of trying to summarize it here, but I would like to share one or two points.  He described the five primary sources, or influences, of the distinctive West Coast Style, which ruled our coast from 1940 – 1960 as the International Style (or International Modernism), the 1920s California Bungalow, the architecture of Japan as interpreted by Frank Lloyd Wright, early Modernism in Oregon, and lastly First Nations’ building traditions.  It is an eclectic list, however one can certainly see how the above would result in the distinctive low-pitched roofs, the large overhangs, the glass walls connecting outside to inside, and the rational open concept planning of the West Coast Style.

James Tuer followed with an exploration of the current architectural trend of West Coast Spirit.  It is a style which respects the past, embraces the present, and tries to anticipate the future.  Shelley Craig of Urban Arts provided a motivational look forward, addressing the urgent paradigm shift needed in residential architecture in Vancouver as an opportunity, rather than a harsh reality.  Her vision included density, affordability, sustainability and collective experience, all issues that One SEED is passionate about, and has been exploring with some of our more compact designs.

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