British architecture firm, Heatherwick Studio recently announced plans for a pair of residential Curvaceous Towers in Vancouver, a prominent city in western Canada. And once complete, At 105 and 117 meters in height, it will be the first skyscraper designed by the Heatherwick Studio in Canada. The project is still in the early stages of design and the exact details on the new development are relatively scant.

But here’s what the firm has unveiled: the planning documents have been submitted to the City of Vancouver in December 2020, the two towers will be located on the Alberni Street in Vancouver’s West End neighborhood and are designed for UK-based real estate Company, Kingswood Properties and Vancouver-based real estate company, Bosa Properties.

The visuals published by the practice show two irregular-shaped tapering towers—one 30-stories-tall and the second, a bit lankier, to the west topping out at 34 stories, the two sculptural twisted towers emerge from a ground-level plaza. The plaza is meant for community engagement, the sky-high beauty is studded with angled balconies that offer panoramic views across the city and the Vancouver Harbor.

Inspired by the shape of trees, the superstructure aims to set a benchmark in architectural design. “The concept aims to bring a new level of global design excellence to Vancouver, featuring two curvaceous, light-filled towers and a publicly-accessible ground level plaza for community engagement,” stated Heatherwick Studio.

The location of the multi-story, within the leafy and dense West End, is situated in the middle of two major commercial drags—West Georgia Street and well known Robson Street—and just blocks uphill from the entrance to Stanley Park and within proximity to Vancouver Harbour. This new development would encompass 401 condominium units replacing two mid-1980s-style apartment towers at 1728 Alberni Street and 735 Bidwell Street. The proposal estimates that the tree-like tower will include 401 residential units, a daycare facility for children, and a spacious parking area, sufficient to accommodate over 500 bicycles.

It is understood from the renderings released by Heatherwick Studio that the multileveled apartment block of Curvaceous Towers will be made from concrete, timber, and glass, and will feature glazed bronze-colored panels.

The two towers form a bottleneck towards the base and then open up to a shared plant-shrouded five-story podium with amenities including retail, restaurants, and other public amenities. Private, resident-only amenities include a full-fledged gym, swimming pool, and a lounge. “It’s difficult to have a positive emotional connection with a huge flat building. Our curving structure breaks-down the mass of the building into a human scale, dividing its long facades vertically into segments that provide more punctuation at street level.” reads a statement from the Heatherwick Studio. The firm went on to note that, “Too often towers are monolithic and cut-off from the street life, which is the lifeblood of the West End. We aimed to create towers that intersect with the ground-level at a human scale, inviting interaction with the wider city community, creating a vibrant social hub for residents and visitors alike. By creating our scheme for the towers from the ground up, not tower down, we saw an opportunity to engage the ground-level as active social spaces by carving out some of the mass at the base of the towers.”

The Residential Towers Planned for Vancouver

Heatherwick Studio Unveils Pair of Curvaceous Towers for Vancouver - Sheet1
The Residential Towers Planned for Vancouver ©Arch Daily

The skyscraper’s zig-zagged façade continues in the interiors and is perceived from the ground-level plaza. The terraces on the first six floors will also have planted gardens adding a green, natural touch to the tower’s ultra-modern design. The upper floors, for 22 levels, will follow the same form of zig-zagged terraces which are divided with vertical wooden strips.

The tower units will include a combination of studios, one, two, and three bedroom-added to residences; lower units will also house a series of built-in terrace gardens that feature-rich vegetation. The renderings show spacious balconies, terraces, and niches spilling over with greenery.

Heatherwick Studio has recently shifted focus to biophilic design, with projects including a Maggie’s Centre in the UK and a high-rise in Singapore that are themed with vegetation-filled balconies. Japanese firm Kengo Kuma is also constructing a skyscraping structure in Vancouver’s West End called Alberni, the 43-story apartment complex is due to complete in 2021. Shigeru Ban is also working on a new project for the city called the Terrace House.

The Vancouver-based building will be 71 meters high and will be built with timber and glass around a central concrete core. More multistory buildings in progress for the Canadian city include a 178-meter-high superstructure built to Passivhaus standards and a timber and concrete high-rise that will be 120 meters tall. Heatherwick Studio had previously planned a massive-timber neighborhood for a smart city project in Toronto the capital city of Canada’s Ontario, for Sidewalk Labs, however, the project was canceled last year.

The Sky-High Residential Complex by Heatherwick Studio

Courtesy of Picture Plane for Heatherwick Studio ©

Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.