SAIT partnership

Vancouver affordable housing pilot project underway

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

An affordable rental housing pilot project is underway in Vancouver that will help evaluate innovative building materials and designs aimed at tackling affordability, inclusion and climate change.

The project, called Vienna House, is in the initial design phase. It will be proposed as a six-storey building with approximately 100 units at the intersection of Victoria Drive and Stainsbury Avenue in East Vancouver. The project is a partnership between BC Housing, the City of Vancouver (through the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency), and More Than a Roof Housing Society.

Vienna House aims to showcase innovative materials and processes designed to deliver high-energy performance with very low greenhouse gas emissions. These include:

  • prefabricated wall, floor and ceiling components constructed from renewable materials off site;
  • building information modelling that creates a “digital twin” of the proposed building and allows optimization and careful integration of all systems; and
  • an integrated design process that brings all partners together at regular intervals to collaboratively solve project challenges and maximize opportunities for efficiency.

This building would provide rental homes for a range of households, including low- to moderate-income individuals, families, seniors and those facing accessibility barriers.

The Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency and Vancouver’s Public: Architecture + Communication are creating the initial design concept for Vienna House and moving it through the rezoning process. The application to the City of Vancouver for rezoning is expected to be submitted in summer 2021.

“Given global conditions of the climate emergency and housing crisis, Vienna House offers a brave turn in the right direction,” said John Wall, principal, Public: Architecture + Communication.Public is honoured to contribute to this collaboration among researchers, policy-makers, design, engineering and construction professionals to address multiple challenges on one site.”

If approved, the pilot project would be built to meet the requirements of the Passive House standard. As a result, future tenants would use very little energy for heating and cooling and, in compliance with the City of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan, the building would be designed to minimize climate pollution. If approved, the project would welcome its first tenants in late 2023.

Once it is built and operating, Vienna House could be a template for other affordable housing projects across the city, province and country.

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