Here are the winners of Vancouver's first Urban Design Awards (PHOTOS)

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60 West Cordova via Henriquez Partners Architects

Vancouver is home to some of the most innovative urban design and architecture, not only in Canada but around the world.

In recognition of the visionary thinking Vancouver is home to, the City has introduced The Urban Design Awards – a biennial celebration of the best in urban design excellence.

This year’s inaugural winners competed in nine different categories with the victors being selected by architectural experts Peter Wreglesworth, David Dove, Greg Bellerby and Joseph Fry.

Each project faced challenges in their development, from noise pollution due to nearby off-ramps to maintaining sustainable construction, but they all managed to not only overcome those difficulties, but to also create some of the most eye-catching and avant-garde architecture Vancouver has to offer.

Here are your 2014 Urban Design Awards winners:

Small Residential Buildings

Cloister House combines architectural passion with a commitment to sustainability by salvaging more than 90% of the original building’s materials and using many of them as artful additions to the new house.

Image: Measured ArchitectureImage: Measured Architecture

Cloister House via Measured ArchitectureImage: Measured Architecture

Cloister HouseImage: Measured Architecture

Medium Residential Buildings

  • Winner: Monad
  • Firm: Lang Wilson Practice in Architecture Culture

Located on 4th Avenue in Kitsilano, Monad’s calling card is flexibility in urban living.

The project is highlighted by a “Green Roof” which mitigates storm run-off and decreases heating and cooling loads, passive ventilation which keeps units comfortable without using any energy, and roof gardens that give residents a chance to plant their own flowers and vegetables.

Monad House via Lang Wilson PracticeImage: Lang Wilson Practice

Monad House via Lang Wilson Practice

Image: Lang Wilson Practice

Large Residential Buildings

In its former life, 6th & Fir was an impromptu parking lot and well-used pedestrian shortcut. Facing Burrard Inlet, the building offers gorgeous views but the proximity to the Granville Street Bridge off-ramp gave developers a challenge.

To combat the noise and visual pollution, “vegetated boxes” were installed to limit sight lines to and from the off-ramp. Sound absorption is provided by the wood cladding on the walls in conjunction with acoustically rated window glazing. A row of large bamboo planted along the western edge of the retail space and artist studio roofs adds another layer of privacy and noise reduction.

A central boardwalk featuring artists’ studios and retail space was also created where the pedestrian pathway had previously been located in order to connect the development to its surrounding open spaces and parks while also extending the local street front.

6th & Fir via Henriquez Partners ArchitectsImage: Henriquez Partners

6th & Fir via Henriquez Partners ArchitectsImage: Henriquez Partners

Commercial Buildings

Cactus Club Cafe at English Bay Beach was constructed to replace the existing Vancouver Park Board concession stand, next to the existing historic bathhouse.

A narrow footprint and large windows provide ample natural daylight as well as generous views to the spectacular English Bay setting.

Cactuc Club English Bay via Acton Ostry Architects Image: Acton Ostry Architects

Cactuc Club English Bay via Acton Ostry Architects Image: Acton Ostry Architects

Government and Institutional Buildings

The soaring glazed portal and sky-lit atrium of York House Senior School create a dynamic crossroads on the campus, and incorporate social and study spaces that inspire.

York House School via Acton Ostry ArchitectsImage: Acton Ostry Architects

York House School via Acton Ostry ArchitectsImage: Acton Ostry Architects

York House School via Acton Ostry ArchitectsImage: Acton Ostry Architects

Urban Elements

Occasionally, it rains in Vancouver. Shocking information, I’m sure. Thankfully, the Aldo canopy at 1025 Robson provides shelter to pedestrians while also concealing wear and weathering in an elegant fashion.

1025 Robson St canopy via Eight Inc Image: Eight inc.

Innovation

Paris Block: Paris Annex’s innovative design links the existing heritage building with a new addition, creating a combined, hybrid project.

Paris Annex via Gair Williamson ArchitectsImage: Paris Annex via Gair Williamson Architects

Paris Annex via Gair Williamson ArchitectsImage: Paris Annex via Gair Williamson Architects

Outstanding Sustainable Design

Ecoheritage is comprised of seven super-high efficiency modern townhouses which, when combined, achieved an EnerGuide rating of 89 and a LEED Platinum Rating.

The close proximity of townhouses to one another is made possible through significant attention to the spaces between the units. The public space between caters to opportunities for casual social exchange.

Union Street Ecoheritage via Eric Scott PhotographyImage: Eric Scott Photography

Union Street Ecoheritage via Eric Scott PhotographyImage: Eric Scott Photography

Landscape, Public Place and Infrastructure

One of Vancouver’s most active and lively waterfronts, Jericho Beach Park is known for its sandy beaches where people come to learn to sail, picnic, play beach volleyball, and enjoy the waterfront festivals and large open spaces.

The Jericho Park Restoration project will see the removal of the Jericho Marginal Wharf and restoration of the foreshore beach and parklands, while expanding flexible usable park spaces.

Jericho Beach Marginal Wharf Restoration via Sharp and Diamond Landscape ArchitectureImage: Sharp and Diamond Landscape Architecture

Architectural Design Excellence and Innovative Systems Integration

  • Winner: Monad
  • Firm: Lang Wilson Practice in Architecture Culture

Also recognized in the medium residential buildings category, the Monad project received recognition for its sustainability and spatial design, as well as an ambitious venture into prefabrication.

Monad House via Lang Wilson PracticeImage: Lang Wilson Practice

Architectural Design Excellence and Innovative Community Densification

The Union Street project is not only sustainable, but also beautifully-designed. It retains the original turn of the 19th century buildings by lifting the houses and moving them to the back of the site before returning them to their original position on top of two new street-accessible townhouses.

Union Street Ecoheritage via Eric Scott PhotographyImage: Eric Scott Photography

Reinforcing Community Through Collaboration and Social Innovation

  • Winner: 60 West Cordova
  • Firm: Henriquez Partners Architects
  • Developer: Westbank Projects and Vancity
  • Team: PHS Community Services, Habitat for Humanity

Located in one of the poorest areas of Canada, 60 West Cordova is a prototype for affordable home ownership in a notoriously expensive city.

Based on the principles of inclusivity and doing more with less, the 96-unit project features conscious design decisions to keep costs low. Restrictions on ownership were also applied to ensure locals who had been living, working or volunteering in the troubled neighbourhood had preferential ability to purchase. These buyers were also required to live in their own unit, curtailing purely investment-driven purchasing.

Further supporting the local community, several units were granted at cost to the Portland Hotel Society and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Vancouver to house individuals in their programs.

An integral part of the building’s exterior is a public art component with painted glass panels that glow in the evening. The panels feature silhouettes of “people supporting people” and in-turn “supporting the building”. The work is a gesture to the community, where people are helping others achieve remarkable things in the Downtown Eastside.

60 West Cordova via Henriquez Partners ArchitectsImage: Henriquez Partners Architects

60 West Cordova via Henriquez Partners Architects

Image: Henriquez Partners Architects

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!

Featured Image: Henriquez Partners Architects

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Jeff Clowers is a former Editorial Intern. He is a BCIT Journalism grad and avid sports fan - Go Eagles! Covering all the happenings of the Greater Vancouver area.
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