Designers and planners in Vancouver and Vienna in Austria are exchanging green building design knowledge for applicable use on affordable rental housing projects in both of their cities.
BC Housing announced on Friday it is funding the design work for Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue — the northeast corner of the intersection of Victoria Drive and Stainsbury Avenue, just south of Trout Lake Park and a 10-minute walk to SkyTrain’s Nanaimo Station.
The site is currently occupied by a community garden and two single-family homes.
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Vienna House, the name of the project, will be a six-storey building with about 100 affordable rental homes, with 30% of the units for moderate incomes, 50% for rent geared to housing income limits, and 20% for deep subsidy income limits. The total floor area will be about 83,000 sq ft.
The development — built to the Passive House green design standard — will be a showcase of innovative high-energy performance materials with low greenhouse gas emissions, including prefabricated components made from renewable materials.
The project is a partnership between BC Housing, City of Vancouver’s Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, and More Than A Roof Housing Society, as well as the City of Vienna, which is working with Vancouver’s municipal government to explore new materials and approaches to building affordable housing.
The University of British Columbia’s Urban Innovation Research Group will study Vienna House, considered as a pilot project, to develop construction best practices and policy development.
The building has yet to be designed; Vancouver-based architectural firm Public Design was selected only a few weeks ago to lead the design process.
A formal rezoning application submission is anticipated to be made in July 2021, and if all goes as planned with the review processes the building could reach completion in late 2023.
BC Housing is providing $320,000 for the design process, and if the project is approved it will also fund construction and operations.
“Vienna House is such a unique project in that all of the partners are coming together really early in the process,” said Lee Anne Michayluk, CEO of More Than a Roof Housing Society, which will own and operate the building.
“This means we as the housing provider are able to have input into the homes and community spaces where our tenants are going to live and interact. It also means we’re addressing the big issues of affordability, livability and climate change in a collaborative way, rather than trying to find solutions in silos.”
Vienna’s municipal government is also building a reciprocal project called Vancouver House, which is further along in the planning process. It will have 107 affordable rental homes, including 12 units for assisted living and 11 units for single parents, and mixed uses specifically a Kindergarten school. This will all be contained within a hybrid wooden structure with a Passive House performance — the base building code in Vienna.
Construction on Vancouver House in Vienna is slated to begin in June 2022.