Lore Krill Housing Co-op

Vancouver, British Columbia
Henriquez Partners Architects

Originally intended to be housed in the historically significant but derelict Woodward’s building, the Lore Krill Housing Co-op is situated just one block away from the former flagship department store in the socially and economically disadvantaged Gastown neighbourhood in downtown Vancouver. This traditional infill project consists of 86 non-market and 20 market units in two connected eight-storey buildings with a three-level underground parkade owned by the City of Vancouver. The number of livable units on the site were maximized in accordance with the BC Housing allocation; apartments include 365 sq. ft. studios, 550 sq. ft. one-bedroom units and 750 sq. ft. two-bedroom units. Over 50% of the units were designed in accordance with accessibility principles to accommodate residents with physical impairments.

The project was designed in concert with the Co-op, using a workshop process in which its members were empowered to understand the issues and make decisions regarding the building’s design. Additionally, strict design guidelines and active community involvement resulted in the articulation of the building as two principal masses 75 feet in height, resting upon a one-storey landscaped podium. The West Cordova faade appears as a composite of smaller interlocking structures upon which a third element has been added, acknowledging the Woodward’s faade while unifying the scale and mass of smaller buildings in the neighbourhood. The rear elevation has been set back and the windows angled to maximize views down the lane. Significant outdoor spaces include a large courtyard between the two principal masses along with five landscaped roof terraces with panoramic views of the city and mountains. Modest balconies adorn units on the north elevation, providing additional access to the outdoors. Parking for residents of the Co-op is accessed from the lane, while access to the public parkade is located directly from West Cordova Street.

The building is flat-slab concrete construction with a main faade of concrete block veneered with brick, recalling the Co-op’s relationship to the Woodward’s building. Sitecast architectural concrete forms are angled to provide sawtooth fins on the rear elevation, while galvanized steel elements are used as literal and metaphorical bridge elements, cornices and canopies that reference the traditional industrial heritage of Vancouver as a port city.

The architects have successfully created a model for accessible and adaptable design within a budget determined by the BC Housing Corporation. They have created an enriched home environment and a glimmer of optimism for this community, but more importantly, a model for all future non-market housing projects.

Andresen: The architectural quality of this project is underpinned by the successful manipulation of a myriad of competing demands to develop an exemplary low-budget housing model.

Macdonald: The ability to extend the range of communal spaces in the face of providing public housing is refreshing; to do so in a project with such attentive detail and material resolve is nothing short of extraordinary.

Pearl: This project encompasses profound social values while defending the notion that urban living can be both vital from a sustainable and rehabilitation perspective and still be imaginatively playful with limited finances. The architectural three-dimensional resolution of the internal garden courtyard–a vertical urban living space carved out between two thin volumetric extrusions–is skillfully defined by human scale, angular views and dramatic daylight.

Client: Lore Krill Housing Co-op

Architect Team: Gregory Henriquez, Shawn Strasman, Jaime Dejo, Fred Markowsky, John Maki, Frank Stebner, Jason Martin

Housing Consultant/Project Manager: Terra Housing

Structural: Glotman Simpson Structural Engineers

Mechanical: Keen Engineering

Electrical: Arnold Nemetz & Associates Ltd.

Landscape: Perry + Associates

Area: 100,000 sq. ft.

Budget: $11 million

Photography: Derek Lepper