This LEED Gold project brings more sustainable, affordable housing to Vancouver.
It can be difficult to find affordable housing in the heart of Vancouver, Canada’s eighth largest city and a vibrant place to live and work with easy access to arts, culture, and nature. In 2018 Acton Ostry Architects helped to make that a little bit easier with the LEED Gold–certified, 14-story Duke rental residential project.
“High-density rental housing serves a significant population who wants to live in the city but who either cannot afford or choose not to own a home,” says Mark Ostry, principal of Vancouver-based Acton Ostry Architects. “Located near transit, high-density housing reduces dependency on cars for commuting and the need for on-site parking. High-density rental housing increases the rental housing supply, which plays a role in regulating affordability when the supply meets or exceeds the demand.”
The Duke was designed under the City of Vancouver Rental 100 Secured Market Rental Housing Policy, which allows height and density limits in strategic locations in the city to be rezoned in exchange for provision of 100% rental housing. The mixed-use project is in the busy Mount Pleasant neighborhood and has 201 rental units with a small ground floor retail component, all compactly contained in an open-air atrium court building typology that’s new to Vancouver.
The team borrowed from UK design concepts, locating the living units at the perimeter of the site, for example, to result in the central void that became the open-air circulation atrium. “It achieved a higher density of dwelling units in a lower building form. The same density in a traditional double-loaded corridor apartment building set back from the lot lines would have required an additional four stories and would have been approximately 30% higher,” Ostry says.
Enhanced energy performance and water efficiency are The Duke’s core sustainable features. The building’s central location and access to transit, coupled with amenities like bicycle maintenance space and a car share program, encourages occupants to limit vehicle use. The sustainability strategy also emphasized using environmentally responsible building materials, with a focus on materials emissions and indoor air quality to ensure a clean and healthy environment for residents. A rooftop green space also exceeds the minimum mandated standard.
The multi-colored entrance doors were intended to animate the atrium space, says Mark Ostry, principal of the project. The colors were chosen from Le Corbusier’s 1959 architectural polychromy color palette.
The open-air atrium was designed for circulation and to enhance a sense of community. A high-tensile steel and Teflon membrane structure was suspended above the open-air atrium to protect the space from the elements. A narrow vertical south-facing slot provides glimpses in and out of the space, while an 18-meter high, pink-colored suspended art installation washes colored light into the white atrium. The atrium was conceived as a pure space and volume where colorful entrance doors and residents become the animation against a backdrop of brilliant white surfaces. “The atrium design stayed consistent throughout the design process,” Ostry says.
“Residents love the atrium space as well as an unprecedented level of rooftop amenities that include a children’s playground, urban agriculture, a dog-friendly area, social seating, an outdoor barbecue and cooking area, plus 360 degrees of uninterrupted views of the mountains, ocean, and skyline beyond,” Ostry says.
Ground floor plan
Project: The Duke Location: Vancouver Completion: March 2018 Size: 15,263 square meters Architect: Acton Ostry Architects Client: Edgar Development Structural Engineer: Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd. Mechanical Engineer: Rocky Point Engineering Ltd. Electrical Engineer: MCW Consultants Landscape Architect: Durante Kreuk Landscape Architects LEED: The Integral Group Building Envelope: Morrison Hershfield Building Code: Thorson McAuley Certified Professionals Acoustics: RWDI Interior Design: Bob’s Your Uncle Design Inc. Construction Management: Ventana Construction