Vancouver House by BIG: Usually, people keep the best for last, it is more interesting that way, right? However, me being, well, me, I usually start reading “point” articles from the end upwards, or to “the first point”, simply because I am “built” that way. I am sure many of you are “built” the same way as I, and in that light, you, my friends will get “the last point” as first, and for the ones that are accustomed to reading by order, you guys, can do it your way or try our way for once. I solemnly swear it is fun. 

1. Sci-Fi layer.

The first point salutes the fellow appreciators of Sci-Fi. That is why I was so excited to share this as the first of ten less-known facts about this architectural marvel. Its inspirational origins are thanks to these guys.

Ingels’s visual image for the Vancouver House’s curvilinear form comes from a subtle pixelated structure, such are the art-forms of the City of Glass author Douglas Coupland. Also, Ingel’s vision of this skyscraper’s positioning and its correlation with the existing bridge would be centred on the idea William Gibson brought to light in his Sprawl trilogy, a bridge that becomes a shantytown, a centre of the social dystopian aftereffects of an earthquake.

P.S. The Wachowski’s trilogy “The Matrix” was heavily influenced by the Sprawl trilogy.

2. No urban black holes

The skyscraper has a small triangular footprint, surrounded by a mixed-use “village” of triangular-shaped open and covered spaces. This concept transforms the neighbourhood and the plan of the city of Vancouver into a much denser, consistent urban layout, lacking the emptiness no-used “holes” create in an urban matrix.

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3. Liveliness in the neighbourhood.

Local artworks are displayed on large lightboxes on the underside of the bridge, increasing the pedestrian activity in the zone under the skyscraper. A less-known aspect of Ingles’s idea revealed that although the skyscraper gets the attention, posing as the new landmark of Vancouver, the charm of happenings in between and underneath the bridge are unexpected, striking, and of utmost public importance. The Beach District is envisioned as a centre of social and communal sharing and support, and a Creative Space. The Vancouver’s House lobby would also favour artwork on the walls, resembling a contemporary art gallery. 

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4. Spinning Chandelier.

An installation by Rodney Graham. Massive in its presence, located under the bridge on the intersection of Granville Street and Beach Avenue, presents part of an infrastructure, not just a piece of art. It is an inspiration from one of Graham’s previous works and an experiment conducted by Isaac Newton. Two times a day, the piece lights up, drops to its lowest point, rotates for four minutes, slows down, stops, and rises again.

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Vancouver House ©photograph by Maggie MacPherson

5. Permanence.

Vancouver is an every-day earthquake-risk area. Based on this fact, the city of Vancouver maps a seismic risk assessment and evaluates proposed buildings whether they are earthquake-resilient and safe as a structure and/or risk to the local community if a natural disaster strikes. Vancouver House by BIG, despite its grandeur in size, is considered to be “the safest place to be while earthquake” – project architect Vance Harris, of local partner Dialog. The resilience is thanks to its construction, of course. Vertical post-tension rods give strength to the elongated walls of the flat side of the building, enabling resistance to bending forces, and the concrete box design of the building core ensures resistance against the twisting forces. Horizontal post-tension slabs along with the vertical post-tension rods ensure the transfer of loads to the skeletal system of columns, walls, and the concrete core of the building. An additional load bearer and transfer are the steel beams embedded in the doorway headers.

6. Introducing a new typology.

“Vancouverism”. This typology introduces slender towers, skyscrapers, residential structures in denser, central areas of the city, that enable high rise living, with unobstructed views and noise reduction from the pedestrian street that would be activated and cultivated underneath. The urban context under the tower is a mixed-use podium, a community dedicated space, and a human-scale urban environment. The typology enables the surrounding to shape the communicational base of the urban layout on the site, and the form in which the structure will take place.

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7. Custom living space.

Members of BIG were assigned to make every penthouse in Vancouver House one of a kind, depending on the individual tastes and demands of the user. The tenants of the penthouses collaborate with designers from BIG, making unprecedented creations tailored to their wishes and visions, thus exploring different materials and a variety of concepts to accomplish the wanted. Every penthouse is different.

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8. Elevators.

In the residential tower of Vancouver House, ultra-fast elevators are used. Travelling at a speed of 487m (1600ft) in a minute, these are the fastest elevators introduced in Canada.

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9. LEED Certification.

Vancouver House by BIG strives for Platinum Leed Certification. This Green building program rates buildings for their design, construction, operation, maintenance, sustainability and aims to help architects, engineers, owners, and users to be environmentally responsible and efficient. Leed credits buildings into four levels of certification from lowest to highest rank: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

10. The Movie.

Vancouver House is mentioned only once in Big Time – the documentary about Bjarke Ingels as an upcoming project to be finished in 2019. The skyscraper is not a topic discussed widely in it. And why am I choosing to talk about it as the tenth point? Because it is important to understand that Ingels and his group decide to broaden their impact in the world of architecture in North America simply because of the love for towers, and/or skyscrapers. In the rawness of the nature of this documentary, Ingels talks about what better place to move to, than New York – the city of skyscrapers. His main inspiration about every project regardless of the typology derives from the surroundings the project will set its roots in. Vancouver created the Vancouver House.

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Viktorija Vitanova
Author

Viktorija Vitanova is a fifth-year student at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture, Slovenia. She received a bachelor’s degree of Arts in Architecture from American College Skopje, North Macedonia. Her interests lie in the theory of architecture, an abstract undertake of architectural projects, and the socio-psychological aspect of architecture.

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