Alison Brooks to construct Surrey high-rise complex

Alison Brooks Architects—the London, UK firm led by Canadian ex-pat architect Alison Brooks—has won approval for a million-square-foot mixed-use residential development in Surrey, BC. The development, called The Passages, passed its third and final public hearing at the City of Surrey last month.

Rendering ©Omega

The Passages site is at the heart of the emerging Surrey City Centre, near Vancouver. In the middle of one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, Surrey’s central district is being developed as a high-density, transit-orientated and walkable downtown core. The design was driven by a desire to create a set of tall buildings that merged to form a beautiful skyline, while also providing humane and diverse streetscapes.


The proposal consists of a full city block, with free-flowing public space at its heart, lined by a mix of uses which aim to serve its residents and the wider City of Surrey. The Passages proposes buildings without a front or back—all façades are on display and active, serving as extensions of the public realm.

Plan. Alison Brooks Architects

A series of passages between and around the buildings lead to an open piazza at its centre, a contrast to the usual North American city blocks, which tend to be enclosed and dense. An activated heart brings movement through the site and offers a wide range of activities for residents and neighbours to use and enjoy, creating an amenity for the city.

Rendering ©Omega

Three building typologies are proposed across the site: towers, mansion blocks and point blocks. Together, they offer a variety of typologies and scale, which contribute to the unique character of the development. The development refers to natural forms, including monolithic stone for the low-rise buildings  and vertical forests for the towers. The large-scale forms are broken up with allusions to the textured bark of tree and tonal references from moss and lichen.

Rendering ©Omega