Social housing with a First Nations basket weave design proposed for Vancouver

Jun 2 2020, 5:58 pm

The latest social housing building proposal in Vancouver takes on an architecturally unique design and establishes a new green building standard for this type of use.

Local non-profit housing developer M’akola Development has submitted a rezoning application for 1766 Frances Street — a mid-block site just east of Commercial Drive in the Grandview Woodland area.

Currently, the site is occupied by an 1985-built, three-storey social housing building with 36 homes dedicated only to people with Indigenous ancestry. The property was damaged by fire in December 2017.

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Site of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Site of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects/M’akola Development)

The application calls for a new 88-ft-tall, nine-storey social housing building with 84 units for Indigenous people.

It will have a unit mix of 40 studios, nine one-bedroom units, five one-bedroom accessible units, 14 two-bedroom units, six three-bedroom units, and 10 four-bedroom units. With this mix, 35% of the units will be sized for larger families.

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

Two major amenity spaces are proposed, including a ground-level amenity that visually connects the lobby with an exterior “sweat lodge area,” and a seventh-level multi-purpose amenity space that opens up to a patio with city and mountain views.

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

This will be a Passive House green building that incorporates green roofs on the upper rooftops and the hybrid mass timber construction method.

It will use cross-laminated timber floor and envelope panels, but it will have steel structural columns and a concrete core encasing the elevator shafts and emergency staircase. This core provides added fire and seismic safety.

The exterior facade and balcony guardrail pattern of wooden panels provides the building with a First Nation basket weave-inspired look. The panels above the building’s main entrance are further enhanced with First Nations imprinted public art.

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

“The culturally respectful architectural design of the facade panels, balcony guard expression and floor paving references the Coast Salish Peoples basket weaving tradition,” reads the design rationale by GBL Architects.

“The wood expression celebrates the first inhabitants of this area, calling it Khupkhahpay’ay — meaning Cedar Tree.”

A single underground level will offer 25 vehicle parking stalls and 96 bike parking spaces.

The building will have a total floor area of 84,472 sq ft, creating a floor space ratio density of 4.06 times the size of its 16,122-sq-ft lot.

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Diagram of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)

1766 Frances Street Vancouver

Diagram of 1766 Frances Street, Vancouver. (GBL Architects / M’akola Development)