Shape shifting in Vancouver

Friday 13 Apr 2012

BIG presents twisted residential tower

As part of the city of Vancouver’s focus on sustainable cities, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) - as part of a larger collaboration - has imagined a twisting, cantilevering tower on a difficult site next to the Granville Bridge. Comprised of 600 residential units across a 49-storey volume, the Beach & Howe Tower offers a new gateway to the city and promises a buzzing neighbourhood hub at its base.

The mass of private residential units is anchored by a system of classically ‘BIG’ green-roofed volumes which present commercial opportunities and retail spaces across nine storeys. Thomas Christoffersen, Partner-in-Charge at BIG, explains: “The tower and base are a reinvention of the local typology, known as ‘Vancouverism’. In this typology, slender towers are grouped with mixed-use podiums and street walls that define human-scale urban environments. The aim is to preserve view cones through the city while activating the pedestrian street.”

Offered a very constricted site adjacent to a system of busy roads, BIG suggested a twisted form sprouting from a triangular base and shifting into a rectangular floor plate at the top, providing additional space for the tower’s highest residents. The triangular shape at the base is reflected by a series of open and covered angular courtyards which will foster a community vibe for residents of the tower and local vicinity.

The tower is aiming for LEED Gold Certification with a number of integral sustainable properties including green roofs and façade panels which respond to various solar exposures. BIG has retained a 30m setback from the Granville Bridge to ensure that no residents are disturbed by the busy traffic passing by.

Founding Partner of BIG, Bjarke Ingels, details: “The Beach & Howe Tower is a contemporary descendant of the Flatiron Building in New York City - reclaiming the lost spaces for living as the tower escapes the noise and traffic at its base. In the tradition of Flatiron, Beach & Howe’s architecture is not the result of formal excess or architectural idiosyncrasies, but rather a child of its circumstances: the trisected site and the concerns for neighbouring buildings and park spaces.”

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