Fire Hall No. 5, Vancouver, British Columbia
Located in Vancouver’s Killarney neighborhood, Johnston Davidson Architecture (JDA)’s Vancouver Fire Hall No. 5 is the city’s first fire hall collocated with housing, and sets a precedent for future public building projects.
After serving the Champlain Heights and East Fraser Lands communities since 1952, the replacement of the hall provides the community with colocated housing. The combination of programs is the first of its kind, and delivers for the needs of both fire hall staff and residents.
The new fire hall’s design aims for LEED Gold. It combines concepts of sustainable architecture with the specific programmatic needs of the Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services (VFRS). It also brings increased density to the area, and creates effective use of City land through the addition of four stories of two- and three-bedroom homes for women-led families.
The 21,000-square-foot fire hall includes three apparatus bays and supporting spaces, including personal protective equipment (PPE) storage, a hose tower, offices, a lounge/day room, kitchen, dormitory, washroom facilities, fitness room, and a community room which doubles as a VFRS training room. This meeting space serves as an interface between VFRS and the community, allowing for bookings by community groups, and use for activities such as CPR and first aid courses, blood pressure clinics, and training for volunteer emergency groups.
The 36,000 square feet of housing within the project was realized in partnership with the YWCA. It includes 31 suites, along with amenity rooms. Communal rooftop outdoor spaces include urban agriculture opportunities, picnic tables and a play area. The housing has a separate, secure entrance from the fire hall.
Architecturally combining two extremely different user groups on a small site—while providing each of them with their own identity—was one of the largest challenges that faced the design team. Issues around security, privacy, shared facilities, and combined services were some of the complications which were addressed during the design. Additionally, protective services facilities in Vancouver need to be designed to post-disaster standards. As a result, the entire building must be able to withstand seismic forces 1.5 times those required for a regular structure.
Throughout the building, accessibility, natural lighting, exterior views and operable windows improve livability for users and reduce energy demand. The housing component of the building is constructed in light wood frame, which adheres to the BC Wood First Act. The wood is harvested locally from sustainably managed forests.
Combining the two programs on a site already owned by the City offered exceptional value, and kept the cost per square foot down in comparison to similar facilities in Vancouver. This successful combining of needs and increased value frees up and allows for improved allocation of citywide resources.