Wallace Street House
Location / Vancouver, Canada
Project Type / New Construction
Size / 3500 sf interior + 220 sf terrace
Completion / 2014
Project completed by Campos Leckie Studio
Photography by John Sinal
The Wallace Street House is a continuation of our ongoing exploration into crafting a response to predominantly single-family neighbourhoods of Vancouver, a response that is firmly grounded in the environment and draws from the many unique qualities of the west coast. In this project we consider the ethos of living in a temperate rainforest through materiality, light, and a changing need for shelter in the winter and summer. The process we follow embodies our deeply held belief that we can employ technology’s ability to inform through detailed climate and performance modelling to create buildings that can achieve high environmental performance, low energy consumption, and comfort for its users. This methodology allows us to explore and employ passive strategies for day-lighting, ventilation, thermal and envelope performance, in order to meet our greater responsibility to the environment while creating a poetic response to the context.
The project is situated in one of Vancouver’s RS zoned districts that place a high degree of importance on traditional building forms and the ability to integrate new designs into an existing streetscape. Our position was to embrace this prosaic context by adopting the simplistic and iconic form of a suburban house as the point of departure for the project. Historically reminiscent of the most basic pioneering cabins, this becomes a canvas upon which we can perform a series of basic operations that investigate ideas about place in a changing coastal environment through form, materiality, and light.
Located on a corner lot, there is a tension between exposure to the street and a need for privacy. We addressed this by carving out the basic form of the building to create a series of spaces and apertures that, although exterior, possess an implied privacy by virtue of being housed in a greater volume. Corner decks and a skewed ridgeline allow us to overcome the constraints of building height limitations on interior spaces while providing multiple connections to the outdoors for upper floor.
Material expression of the exterior follows that of a traditional forest cabin, using wood siding and metal roof. The process of shou sugi ban was chosen for the wood treatment as it is both an environmentally friendly way to preserve the timber and echoes a long-standing Japanese influence throughout the west coast. Although rich and textured at an intimate distance, the black wood and metal roof create a single legible form that stands strongly among the pines during the wests coast’s gloomy winters and bright summers.
Despite a seemingly opaque appearance, the strategy of cutouts supplemented with few openings in the main envelope ensures that all spaces have ample natural lighting and ventilation from multiple sides. The interior and cutouts are lined with white wood to ensure that the natural light is amplified. Indirect and diffuse light is an inseparable part of the west coast and is embraced through skylights in an attempt to give light a presence of its own.