August 22, 2014
The design philosophy of Vancouver house involves a rethinking of residential living
BY FELICITY STONE
Architect Bjarke Ingels has thrown a few curves into the design of Vancouver House, Westbank’s 59-storey residential tower beside the Granville Street Bridge.
Rectangular at the top, as it descends one corner of the tower is carved out, creating a triangular base nestled next to the bridge. “The Vancouver House tower and base are a reinvention of the local typology known as ‘Vancouverism,’” says Kai-Uwe Bergmann, partner at the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). “For Vancouver House, slender towers are coupled with mixed-use podiums and street walls that define human-scale urban environments. The aim is to preserve view cones through the city while activating the pedestrian street.”
Box-shaped anodized aluminum balconies lined with copper create a textured façade and echo art-filled lightboxes planned for beneath the bridge – an area being developed as public space lined with retail buildings and illuminated by a spinning chandelier designed by Rodney Graham.
Inside, the main residential lobby will be treated as an art gallery reflecting the exhibition outside. For example, BIG reinterpreted the conventional bank of residents’ mailboxes, elevating an ordinary and functional object and giving it sculptural importance. The design, a black-metal X shape on a mirrored base, gives the appearance of a heavy object suspended in mid-air, explains Bergmann.
The interiors are conceived in deep relation to the overall architecture and materiality, he says. “The palette of interior finishes is at one with the feel of copper, steel, glass and natural materials of the architectural exterior.” The interior of the residents’ lounge is entirely clad in copper, identical in treatment to the lining of the balconies.
In the apartments, copper is used for kitchen backsplashes, and a torqued kitchen island matches the outside of the building “as a syncretism between exterior and interior,” notes Bergmann. “The sculptural qualities of the island naturally make it a centrepiece of the living space; nevertheless the functional qualities of a conventional kitchen island have been maintained.” Made of Corian, it will be available in white or charcoal grey, as will the matte-lacquer cabinets from Boffi.
“With the total design philosophy at Vancouver House, there was a reconception of residential living, starting with the bold framing architecture, then continuing right down to the tiniest details inside,” says Bergmann. This is why BIG has collaborated with Kohler to design a series of plumbing fixtures that will be standard in every home. “Vancouver House’s bathrooms will be the first anywhere to feature these sleek and sumptuous designs, art works for everyday use, complementing the artistry of the building.”
“THE PALETTE OF INTERIOR FINISHES IS AT ONE WITH THE FEEL OF COPPER, STEEL, GLASS AND NATURAL MATERIALS OF THE ARCHITECTURAL EXTERIOR.”
– Kai-Uwe Bergmann
BIG is also designing a one-piece Corian bathroom counter and sink, although this is still under wraps – Boffi’s sloping Folio sink has been used in the display. The medicine cabinet – and a TV – will be integrated into a mirrored wall.
The interior finishes are high quality and luxurious yet understated. Residents will have a choice of classic black and white finishes complemented by rich wood flooring options (white or grey engineered oak). The simple palette is continued throughout the apartment from kitchen to bathroom, allowing the owner to make personal touches.
BIG has also put its creative stamp on the entry doors to the 388 homes. Instead of a traditional flat slab with a door handle, each door will be edged with a metal plate that acts a door pull while the door itself curves away behind it. Westbank’s intention is to create a special, unique experience for everyone, says Bergmann: every apartment differs from the others in shape and view.