|Because of the
location or for financial reasons, the choice to renovate an existing building
is the only practical option for many people.
In the ease of the Joffre Street project, located on the South Barnaby/Vancouver
border, the owner liked the neighborhood but wanted a larger and newer
house. In this case, tearing down and rebuilding was not feasible.
The existing house was a typical post World War II building, of which
there are tens of thousands in Canada. Our proposal was to add a new second
floor, which would capture a sweeping view over the Fraser River and an
extension to the rear with basement. This solution would completely fill
out the allowable building envelope and floor area ratio, doubling the
size of the house. We also proposed to completely transform the house
so that it would look and feel new inside and out.
Because of careful planning, the desired results were achieved for an
amount which was under the allotted budget – a very good thing for
the client. In the end he was able to buy all new furniture for his house.
The story of his project was featured in the Vancouver Sun, and in a Japanese
In the case of another project at West Point Grey Road and Collingwood,
the exact opposite happened. The 4,000-square-foot house had a heritage
“A” designation, which meant that the structural aspects of
the exterior could not be changed. In this project the goal was to bring
modern luxury into the interior and capitalize on the multimillion view
of downtown Vancouver English Bay and the North Shore. My proposal was
to completely gut the house down to bare studs and start over.
The second floor became an unforgettable entertainment area with kitchen,
living and dining. We raised the ceilings to ten feet and removed walls,
which gave the entire floor a New York loft-type feeling. The bedrooms
were placed on the first floor and the basement was converted into a very
nice two-bedroom apartment.
Often a building offers everything from a location or cost standpoint.
However, architectural redesign is needed to completely realize its potential.
Such properties are plentiful in British Columbia. Careful design often
can often make an old building better than new.
William Edward Summers