This minimal new house is located on a one-acre site near the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The street is extremely busy with traffic to the university all day, inspiring a highly sculptural form with a variety of courtyards carved from simple white massing.
Size: 7000 SF + 1500 SF Laneway House
Site: 1 acre
Interior Design: D’Arcy Jones Architects
Photography: Ema Peter
The courtyards let in light and fresh air, but block all ambient road noise. Every major space of the dramatic interior has an adjacent courtyard or an extremely long skylight overhead. These perforations of the building’s form create dynamic interiors with constantly changing light. The largest central courtyard is visible from all major interior spaces and from the main stair.
In it is a commissioned “self-portrait” sculpture by the artist Douglas Coupland, which abstracts CMYK, RGB the Grayscale; the backbone of graphics, print, photography and digital media. The clients are serious art collectors, so all walls and room sizes were proportioned to emphasize and frame their eclectic contemporary collection. The house is simultaneously simple and complex, mirroring the client and their art.
A natural landscape bleeds into all of the courtyards from a sunken perimeter “moat”, where only indigenous grasses, shrubs and trees were planted. All outdoor spaces are framed by this verdant garden cut from an estate-like lawn, so the greenery becomes sculptural art that enlivens the exterior and approaches to the house.
D’Arcy Jones Architects
D’Arcy Jones Architects (DJA) is a studio practice in Vancouver known for design excellence. Regardless of a project’s size or type, they believe in clear ideas, balancing budgets with quality, and precision. Combining pragmatism and invention, they like to play with common construction techniques and a building’s proportions. They like to make architecture built with traditional and unconventional materials, and they work hard to create designs that are curious and classic.
Their work has been widely published, with features in Architectural Record, Dwell, Hauser, and Canadian Architect. Recent practice honours include the 2017 Emerging Firm Award from the AIBC, the 2017 Emerging Architectural Practice Award from the RAIC / Architecture Canada and the Ronald J. Thom Award for Early Design Achievement from the Canada Council for the Arts. Project honours include two AIBC Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence Medals, two Canadian Architect Awards, a Canadian Wood Council Award and a Vancouver Urban Design Award.
Newness is highly valued in contemporary culture. To stay relevant, architecture needs to reflect this newness in the built world, but more maturely and more sustainably. Since newness and history complement and enhance each other, we believe that practising architecture requires lifelong learning. Architecture of depth and substance comes from looking backwards and forwards simultaneously, to find inspiration in the technical and poetic accomplishments of every culture.