The features of the traditional Vancouver Special are ubiquitous: brick or stone facing on the ground floor, stucco facing on the second level with an accompanying iron-railing porch; inside, standard floor plans include a main living space on the second floor, with extra bedrooms on the main floor, often allowing for subletting.
But let's not dwell too long on this image that I've described above...instead, let's take a look at the vision that D’Arcy Jones Architecture has brought to life with their renovated 430 House in Vancouver, BC.
D’Arcy Jones Architecture focused on cohesion and connectivity, while completely flipping the floor plan: bedrooms are lifted to the second floor, while the main floor is opened into an inviting living area for all.
The box-like silhouette of the home remains, with its original foundation and its shallowly slanted roofs. Beyond this, it stands a far leap from its origins as a standard Vancouver Special layout.
Now, windows align to connect the front and back yards through the house. Natural light has been introduced throughout via maximized windows and skylights.
Bursts of colour spark throughout the home. From the glowing fireplace, to the bright red staircase beam, warmth within this home is not hard to come by.
With clean white walls, bright skylights and glowing wooden floors, this once-Vancouver Special has become a Vancouver Spectacular.
Updated materials do much of the work in rejuvenating the style and energy of the home. I love the repetition of wooden slats which resonate from the front and back façade of the home to the parallel-parking car port. This car-port allows the backyard to be expanded and fully enjoyed.
Standard Vancouver Special homes enjoyed a boom in development throughout the 1960s-80s in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland. Their quick proliferation began a heated debate as they grew in size on their lots. Newspapers and rhetoric of the time demonized the homes as ‘Monster Homes.’ Today, there is no shortage of interest in renovating this ubiquitous design. Keep an eye on the Vancouver Heritage Foundation for upcoming Vancouver Special tours that explore this topic!
D’Arcy Jones Architecture has not only renovated, they have re-mastered this tired Vancouver trope.
Discover more invigorating projects by D’Arcy Jones Architecture.
All photos courtesy of Sama Jim Canzian and D'Arcy Jones Architecture.
Researched and Written by Emily E.A. Stringer, Undergraduate of Sociology, and Geography: Environment & Sustainability, at the University of British Columbia.