Unique concept for terraced wooden towers in downtown Vancouver (RENDERINGS)

Sep 23 2020, 4:02 pm

A unique architectural concept that crafts the “human scale” within a mixed-use, multi-tower redevelopment has surfaced for a site in downtown Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood.

Dutch architectural firm UNStudio has designed 1700 Alberni Street as a redevelopment concept for the southwest corner of the intersection of Alberni Street and Bidwell Street.

The concept was created in 2019 as a competition entry for an unnamed developer. Currently, the site is occupied by a 1986-built, nine-storey strata residential building at 735 Bidwell Street, and a 1987-built, four-storey strata residential complex at 1728 Alberni Street.

1700 alberni street vancouver

Site of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

1700 alberni street vancouver

Site of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Records show about half of the units at 735 Bidwell Street were acquired by a single entity in January 2017.

It is unclear whether UNStudio’s design was chosen; some developers in the city are known to use international design competitions for their larger, high-profile development projects. The shortlisted designs considered privately are rarely seen by the public.

The firm’s design incorporates a mixed-use podium with two luxury residential towers reaching up to approximately 33 storeys.

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

Wood is extensively used for both the exterior and interior, and there is an ambitious scope of greenery within the podium and tower levels.

Multiple uses in the podium levels are interlinked and oriented around a publicly accessible internal courtyard that provides visibility to the businesses. The podium contains retail, restaurants, and offices that are accessible from both the grand stairs in the courtyard, and the staircase at the eastern end of the site on Alberni Street.

The residential towers are defined by setbacks, lookouts, and shifts in volume to create enhanced views, double height balconies, and stepped terraces, including a number of sky gardens with a rotating orientation.

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

“On the building scale, the massing is designed from the inside out, similar to the human experience beginning from within,” reads the architect’s description.

“On the human scale, designing with the details in mind is something that has an immediate impact on end users, whose wellbeing is directly connected to designed features — from the layout design of an apartment to the selection of a sophisticated material palette. In order to boost wellbeing and public health, the goal is to create a balance across these design features, from greenery across indoor and outside spaces, to creating living areas and outdoor spaces that become an extension to apartment living, as well as creating an equilibrium between grand panoramic views and intimate community spaces.”

Approximately 907,000 sq. ft. of total floor area would be generated by this design concept.

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

The development site is immediately west of Westbank and Revery Architecture’s 39-storey residential tower proposal for 1668-1684 Alberni Street.

Over the past decade, the general area of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Cardero Street, within a two block radius, has become a major cluster for high-calibre architecture by international design firms.

Under the city’s West End Community Plan, tower heights for this city block can reach up to 385 ft, as long as view cone and shadowing considerations are not an obstacle.

UNStudio is based in Amsterdam, and has global offices in Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Its notable works include the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuggart, Westfield White City in London, Lane 189 in Shanghai, the new campus of Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Raffles City in Hangzhou.

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept artistic rendering of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

1700 alberni street vancouver

2019 competition concept form of 1700 Alberni Street, Vancouver. (UNStudio)

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