Social housing building resistant to heat waves and earthquakes proposed for Vancouver

Dec 15 2021, 5:05 am

The detailed design concept for an upcoming City of Vancouver-led innovative social housing project, connected to the City of Vienna in Austria, has just been released ahead of the start of its public consultation in the new year.

The newly submitted rezoning application for 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue conceptualizes a seven-storey, Passive House-certified green building designed to a 2050 climate standard.

The envelope shell of the building and HVAC systems will be designed to mitigate extreme heat events, while smoke filters in the ventilators account for the likelihood of the growing duration and frequency of the summer wildfire season in the future.

An internal courtyard provides not only a cooler refuge — provided by sun shading and landscaping — but also an escape from the noise of passing trains, given that the building site is immediately south of the SkyTrain Expo Line guideway.

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House Public

Artistic rendering of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Public Design/VAHA/BC Housing)

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House Public

Artistic rendering of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Public Design/VAHA/BC Housing)

In addition to climate considerations, the pre-fabricated hybrid mass timber building is designed to mitigate the impacts of earthquakes, aided by the improved seismic performance of simple regular building forms, stacked service core areas, and reduced window-to-wall ratio. Additionally, hot water tanks located on the rooftop provide a three-day supply of gravity-fed drinking water in the event of a water supply disruption.

If further funding is made available, the building could see the installation of solar panel arrays to generate back-up electricity in the event of a power outage.

This highly resilient, green showcase building has been named Vienna House, in recognition of the research and knowledge exchange partnership between Vancouver and Vienna’s municipal government on the best design practices and policies for affordable housing. The City of Vancouver’s Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) is pursuing the project with BC Housing.

As a pilot project, researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Urban Innovation Research Group will study the building’s performance.

Vienna’s municipal government is also building a reciprocal research affordable housing project called Vancouver House, which is expected to begin construction in June 2022.

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House Public

Artistic rendering of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Public Design/VAHA/BC Housing)

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House Public

Artistic rendering of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Public Design/VAHA/BC Housing)

This design now being considered for Vienna House is created by Vancouver-based architectural firm Public Design.

As for the building’s actual uses, there will be 123 units of social housing, including 27 studios, 40 one-bedroom units, 34 two-bedroom units, 16 three-bedroom units, and six four-bedroom units, with the largest units reaching an average size of 1,400 sq ft.

Three different rental housing rates are targeted, with 30% at average market rents, 50% for rent geared to housing income limits, and 20% for deep subsidy income limits.

In addition to the courtyard, residents will have access to various other amenity spaces, both outdoor and indoor. Shared balconies are also provided on each floor above the courtyard.

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House Public

Artistic rendering of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Public Design/VAHA/BC Housing)

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House Public

Artistic rendering of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Public Design/VAHA/BC Housing)

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House Public

Ground level and courtyard plan of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Public Design/VAHA/BC Housing)

The proposed total floor area is about 110,400 sq ft, establishing a floor area ratio of a floor area that is 3.46 times larger than the size of the 32,000 sq ft lot. The site is currently occupied by a community garden and two single-family structures.

A single underground level will provide 35 vehicle parking stalls and 227 secure bicycle parking spaces. The location is about a 10-minute walk from SkyTrain Nanaimo Station, and just footsteps from the stops for the frequent buses running along Victoria Drive/Commercial Drive.

If the project follows the expected approval timeline, construction could begin later in 2022. Upon completion, the building would be owned and operated by More Than A Roof Mennonite Society.

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House

The site of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue Vancouver Vienna House

The site of Vienna House at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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