AMA are rising high in British Columbia

Friday 07 Jun 2013

Social, office, residential and artistry spaces in 'Vertical Forest' complex for Vancouver

Located in the heart of Mt. Pleasant, Vancouver this project seeks to set a new standard of design sophistication in the area. Already recognised as one of Vancouver’s most desirable districts, this project is perched on one of the most coveted view sites in the City. Once a dense coastal rainforest, the site’s urban context is now bustling with some of the best bohemian restaurants and trendy bars. Designed by Arno Matis Architecture (AMA) the project presents a contemporary design response that simultaneously captures the ‘atmospheres’ of the old and new Mt. Pleasant.

The massing approach responds to the flatiron condition of the site with strong diagonals setting the parti for the project. Materials are proposed in architectural concrete, curtain wall and a unique wood veneer glass panel developed by AMA specifically for the project. The rotation of the massing from diagonal to orthogonal creates tension in the structure that is expressive in the energy of the project. Roof decks offer spectacularly appointed outdoor garden areas. The project’s ‘vertical forest’ façade is a passive solar control strategy and an interpretation of filtered light through Vancouver’s evergreens.

As the building rises, the ‘residual form’ massing plays on flatiron geometries that relate to the intersection of diagonal and orthogonal street grids that converge on the site. This ‘responsive density’ form-making by forces external to the site is a strategy that AMA is continuing to develop in its projects. At the Mt. Pleasant site, the simple massing blocks are seemingly pushed and pulled along slip planes to address views through and from the site. The rotation of massing from diagonal to orthogonal creates a powerful and dynamic energy that is embodied in the project.

The residual forms result in a cascade of fully landscaped terraces and dramatic floating ‘tree canopy’ cantilevers. The form of the building is in effect a ‘signature’ of its context. AMA believes that in an urban setting, buildings should work together at a number of levels; they should share energy and benefit from their proximity. In effect buildings can and should work together in a kind of ‘urban ecosystem.’

The project’s ‘biomimetic’ strategies seek to increase the energy efficiency of the building. By mapping patterns of vertical shadows cast by adjacent structures, and responding to these by varying the location of transparent and solid glass panels, light and views can be controlled passively. The pattern, optimised to control light throughout the year, is actually created by an innovative new glass system complete with an eco-friendly wood panel integrated into a glazing unit, the first of its kind in the country.

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