Canadian Architect

Feature

A Club of One’s Own

A Group of Young Vancouverites Couldn't Find a Decent Bar to Fit Their Tastes--So They Designed Their Own.

September 1, 2006
by Canadian Architect

Project 1181, Vancouver, British Columbia

Designer Battersbyhowat

Text Ian Chodikoff

Photos Michael Boland

Beyond a Safeway grocery store, a couple of bakeries, some stereotypical Greek restaurants and a few generic coffee shops, Vancouver’s Davie Street has traditionally represented the heart of the city’s gay village. But until a few months ago when the new 1181 Davie designed by BattersbyHowat opened, the nightclubs and lounges along this West End strip catering to a gay clientele offered few if any well-designed contemporary spaces.

This new bar designed by David Battersby and Heather Howat is an intimate and urbane hangout reminiscent of the type of space frequently found in Toronto. The 1,600-square-foot lounge is described by Battersby as a low-key, small “g” gay lounge. Along with the two designers, the bar is owned and operated with Battersby’s partner, Bradley Thompson, and close friend Rob Lord. After being together as a couple for four years, Battersby and Thompson found that the Vancouver gay scene wasn’t quite living up to their expectations. With an entrepreneurial mindset, some initial inquiries were made with the City of Vancouver. A year later, the four business partners rented a commercial space along Davie Street. And an exhaustive 14-month-long process of public consultations, permit applications, criminal background checks and city council meetings finally led to the creation of what exists today.

The project was financed through the efforts of Battersby, Howat and Thompson–buttressed by a parental loan and a lot of patience. Along with friend Patrick Powers, the business partners also set up a construction company–fluid building Inc.–in order to deliver a turnkey operation from the design phase to opening night. With Rob Lord managing the business full-time, and Thompson working part-time, it is hoped that the drinks will continue to flow at 1181 Davie. None of the partners have any prior experience in running a bar but their partnership is solid and eager, hoping to ensure that the lounge stays busy and musically interesting.

The design is simple and straightforward. At the front of 1181, tiny horizontal mirrors arranged on the wall capture flashes of headlight glare during the night as well as glimpses of the Vancouver sun setting over English Bay. The linearity of the lounge space allows for three simple spatial divisions: couch, bar, and an area for tables at the back. This keeps the space intimate and vaguely residential in scale–an attempt to convey the atmosphere of a house party where anyone and everyone is invited. The material palette is also simple and familiar, contributing to the overall comfort of the space. The concrete floors and glass mosaic tiles combine to form cost-effective interior surfaces while recycled teak veneer, cedar slat ceiling and dark cork wall tile provide both acoustical dampening and kitschy flashbacks to 1970s suburban basements.

Client Tight Lounge Inc.

Design Team David Battersby, Heather Howat, Tillie Kwan, Scott Lawrie

Structural Bevan-Pritchard Man Associates Ltd.

Mechanical AC Mechanical Solutions

Electrical Scottish Power

Contractor Fluid Building Inc.

Area 1,540 Ft2

Budget $350,000

Completion May 2006




Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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