Tall & Urban News

Proposed Passive House Vancouver Tower to Contain Large Social Housing Component

Plans for what could be the world's tallest Passive House-certified building now include a large social housing component.
Plans for what could be the world's tallest Passive House-certified building now include a large social housing component.
05 May 2020 | Vancouver, Canada

A proposed skyscraper in downtown Vancouver’s West End is attempting to achieve a wide range of mixed residential uses and a new green design standard for a tall building.

The rezoning application for 1059-1075 Nelson Street—located mid-block near the intersection of Thurlow Street and Nelson Street, just west of the under-construction The Butterfly tower—is expected to enter city council’s public hearing stage over the coming weeks.

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The social housing unit mix is 29 studio units, 29 one-bedroom units, 29 two-bedroom units, and 26 three-bedroom units, which uniquely makes many of these homes large enough for larger low-income families. The market rental housing unit mix is 11 studios, 18 one-bedroom units, and 20 two-bedroom units.

Both the social housing unit and market rental housing mixes go towards replacing the existing 51 market rental units found within the site’s 1950s-built, low-storey structures. Social housing will cover 25 percent of the building’s total floor area, and amounts to a CAD$70-million (US$49 million), in-kind community amenity contribution (CACs) to the city.

As for the luxury housing component, the condominium unit mix is 43 studios, 130 one-bedroom units, 130 two-bedroom units, and 20 three-bedroom units.

Indoor and outdoor amenity space for social housing is located on the ground level, while separate indoor amenity space for the market residential units is located on the 16th floor.

The building is designed by UK-based WKK Architects, which is best known for its work on Dubai’s Burj Al Arab. The local office of IBI Group is the architect of record for the application.

According to the application, the architects were inspired by the shape of the Stanley Park portion of the downtown peninsula, as well as the inlet and the forests of this specific landmass.

The resulting architectural concept is two sinuous waved bands with greenery in between—“a simple parti echoing the forest between two coastal edges.” This is realized by an H-shaped floor plate and a distinctive curved form.

All of this is layered on by the proponents’ plan to create a Passive House green building design, making it the tallest certified Passive House building in the world.

“The stand-out word is ‘passive,’ and this client’s desire to create a prototype 60-story Passive House tower that will be the first of its kind in the world is truly admirable,” reads the architect’s design rationale.

“The Passive House brief will make the tower the most efficient structure of its type ever built and will quickly become a blueprint for future towers in cities around the world. The idea of a super-tall passive house tower is especially fitting in a city with such high environmental aspirations, as it will create great interest throughout the world and will become an environmental landmark for Vancouver.”

Both the application by the proponents and a report by city staff note that the tower’s architectural design paired with its environmental design standard fulfill the requirements of the city’s Higher Buildings Policy, which requires taller towers to establish “a significant and recognizable new benchmark for architectural creativity and excellence, while making a significant contribution to the beauty and visual power of Vancouver’s skyline.”

The city’s West End Community Plan stipulates a maximum height of 550 feet (167 meters) on the site, which is also constrained by the Queen Elizabeth Park view cone. But the proponents are hoping to receive a minor height increase to accommodate the rooftop structures for the Passive House measures.

If permitted, the tower’s height will be just half a foot higher than the adjacent The Butterfly, developed by Westbank.

The tower will have a total floor area of 432,000 square feet (40,134 square meters), giving it a floor space ratio density of 24.94 times the size of the lot.

To support the density, eight underground levels will contain 299 vehicle parking stalls and over 1,000 bike parking spaces.

In addition to the CACs, the developer will also be required to provide CAD$9.4 million (US$6.7 million) in development cost levies and CAD$658,000 (US$469,088) of public art.

Located immediately north of the site, just across the laneway, Bosa Properties and Kingswood Capital are proposing to turn 1070 Barclay Street into twin towers reaching a height of up to 458 feet (139 meters).

The Jenga-like design by German firm Büro Ole Scheeren will contain 481 market condominium units and 162 social housing units.

For more on this story, go to The Daily Hive