Japanese architect proposes 40-storey carved tower for downtown Vancouver

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Image: Kengo Kuma and Associates

Downtown Vancouver’s skyline could see another major addition before the end of the decade if a 135-metre tall inverted ‘carved’ tower, as proposed by Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma, receives its necessary municipal approvals.

During an event held Monday evening, local developer Westbank Projects Corporation provided West End neighbourhood residents with a preview of Kuma’s Japanese-inspired design for a slender 40-storey residential tower at 1550 Alberni Street. The scale and concept of the tower abides to the City’s view cone policy and West End Community Plan.

The site is currently occupied by an eight-storey office tower and is located just across the street from 1500 West Georgia Street, the proposed site of Bosa Properties’ recently revealed Jenga-like tower. Both projects could provide an iconic new ‘entrance’ into Vancouver from Stanley Park and the North Shore.

Kuma’s tower design features curving ‘carved deductions’ on the lower half of the northeast corner and upper half of the southwest corner. The facade will be made of a combination of glass and polished anodized aluminum to provide the structure with an almost chequered appearance – shades of Kuma’s FRAC Marseille in France and Bjarke Ingels’ Vancouver House, also by Westbank, on the other side of the downtown peninsula.

A total of 188 residential units are proposed for the building, with many units within the carved deductions possessing substantially sized patios or what project proponents have termed as ‘open gardens’. Interior materials will include the heavy use of wood and bamboo.

Retail space and a restaurant will be located at the tower’s foot, along with a highly unique public amenity – a ground-level Japanese moss garden within a hollowed section of the building, with water and natural features built along the face of an amphitheatre-like, cascading plateau.

Westbank acquired the development site earlier this year for $47 million. The developer is behind a number of other major local projects including Shangri-La Vancouver, Shaw Tower, Fairmont Pacific Rim, Woodward’s, Telus Garden and the Oakridge Centre redevelopment.

A rezoning application will be submitted this summer and public open houses over the design will begin in fall 2015. Artistic renderings of the design for the purpose of public viewing will be released at a later date.

Previous works by Kengo Kuma

Frac Marseille (Marseille, France)

Asakura Culture and Tourism Centre (Taito, Japan)

Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum (Kochi Prefecture, Japan)

Great Bamboo Wall, Beijing Hotel Villa (Beijing, China)

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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