Located on the University Endowment Lands in Vancouver, Bing Thom Architects' Acadia Residence is something of an anomaly. The private residence, built for a young couple from China, is one of a handful of small scale residential projects that is sprinkled in with the firm’s bigger, more complex, ventures.
The award-winning firm’s projects range from local gems, including the Surrey City Centre Library and the Chan Centre at UBC, to international masterpieces such as the Xiqu Theater in Hong Kong and the Arena Stage at the Mead Centre for American Theater in the United States. Yet the Hong Kong-born, Vancouver architect and founder of Bing Thom Architects - who passed away in October 2016 - embraced these small scale projects, seeing them as opportunities to experiment with new concepts, programs and materials.
Built on a 90-foot lot in Point Grey, Thom’s Acadia Residence functions in unparalleled harmony with its surrounding landscape. The transparency of the frameless ribbon windows which encircled the abode, afford the residents a delightful panoramic view of the garden. Traditional physical boundaries seem to disappear, as the interior melts into the landscape. The garden appears as an extension of the building. An island in the sea.
There is a unique aesthetic to the distinctly modern Vancouver residence. Thom has often been celebrated for his ability to transcend cultural boundaries, and the design for Acadia Residence, with its fusion of East meets West, is a testament to this claim. While Bing Thom Architects (BTA) utilises a selection of largely native species for planting, the design for the landscape was inspired by the private water gardens in Suzhou, China.
Like the landscape masters of ancient times, BTA was tasked with creating a microcosm of the natural world within the confines of a single garden. The use of basic elements such as water, rocks, plants, and rolling hills is reminiscent of the classical Chinese gardens.
In terms of material, Thom’s considered approach to design is evident: the residence is composed of a simple combination of exposed concrete, glass, wood, and stone, making for a markedly modern aesthetic. The pared down materials palette makes for an unembellished, timeless piece.
The roof, a thin board, perches atop the house, appearing visually detached, as it is supported by thin metal beams. Slightly overhanging, it hovers discreet and light.
The Vancouver residence is a captivating project, exemplifying the multicultural nature of the city itself, as it celebrates both Eastern and Western traditions. Furthermore, the architect’s appreciation for nature is evident in the project. BTA takes full advantage of the opportunity to highlight the scenic seaside setting.
If you enjoyed this article, please visit our site for more articles on the topic of modern architecture including these posts:
For a more indepth exploration of Bing Thom Architects' recent projects, view the firm's portfolio online.
All photographs courtesy of Nic Lehoux
This article was researched and written by Sonia Jin, an undergraduate student of Environmental Design, University of British Columbia.