Vancouver’s layered gateway

Nick Myall
30 Oct 2015

Arno Matis Architecture have completed a sweeping, spiralled building in Vancouver that utilises a new ‘green’ spandrel system

South Creek Landing is the result of a rare opportunity on a once-forgotten site in Vancouver, Canada. This commercial/residential mixed-use project presents an avant-garde building with cascading post-tensioned concrete cantilever floors.

Named one of the 15 best buildings in Vancouver by Planning Director Brian Jackson, the project is perched on the southwest end of the Cambie Street Bridge and stands as the symbolic gateway to Vancouver’s uptown.

A layered screen façade reflects light and distorts the boundaries between interior and exterior. The project boasts a number of design “firsts” for the architectural typology. 

The dynamic free-form steel spandrels emphasise the vortex energy of the nearby road bridgehead site. The light reflecting colour was chosen to increase light penetration to the interior on the overcast days which are typical in Vancouver. Spandrels are shaped and engineered to maximize passive solar shading, while simultaneously working as privacy screens - blocking light and noise from the adjacent bridge traffic and bustling pedestrian walkways below. 

The building’s vocabulary is sweeping and spiralled to capture the energy created by the adjacent road bridge ramps. The edges are curved and fragmented to evoke the idea of movement, as if the energy of the street itself is peeling the surfaces of the building apart. The building turns its corners in prow-like forms that track sun-angles and provide passive horizontal and vertical sun-shading.

Arno Matis Architecture used its ‘Responsive’ design approach to address the complex architectural and urban design challenges on this tight and oddly shaped site. Analysing commute patterns and other contextual forces impacting the site, South Creek Landing acts as a design ‘response’ to these external forces. Intricately sculpted massing maximizes buildable square footage; landscaping & retail activate the pedestrian realm and a once-forgotten lot brings new life to Cambie’s skyline inviting neighbouring skytrain commuters to slip along its plains.

Bent by the vortex energy of the bridgehead infrastructure at its location, the form of the 6th & Cambie project organically rotates to respond to light and views. Its setback and landscaped street edges facilitate pedestrian movement to the adjacent transit station. Part vertical solar shade and part privacy screen, the custom curving spandrels of the project are precisely defined and angled to respond to the solar exposure of the site. The building form is emphasized through a light art installation by Tamar Frank that recalls the frenetic movement of the head and taillights of nearby traffic. 

Building materials are architectural concrete, metal and glass, a deliberately spare and timeless material palette to express a homogenous yet dynamic form.


Source: Arno Matis Architecture

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