Stephanie Allen, BC Housing
For those in our audience who might not be familiar with BC Housing, what does your agency do?
BC Housing helps develop and manage interdisciplinary applied research projects with a focus on city-related issues—especially issues related to buildings and infrastructure. We work in partnership with the private sector, nonprofits, governments, and health authorities right across the province, and we work with other levels of government in developing, managing, and administering a wide range of subsidized housing, affordable housing, and options right across the housing continuum.
And what is unique about Vienna House?
Vienna House will test the potential of prefabricated, mid-rise wood construction to help address the rental housing demand in our province. It will be a 106-unit building in Vancouver. It also includes a really groundbreaking collaboration between local governments—the City of Vienna, Austria, and the City of Vancouver. Both cities have agreed to really share insights on new innovative building approaches that effectively transform our markets and really update where we are. The Vienna House team will share lessons learned with their European partners and British Columbia’s construction industry will also benefit from this exchange. Vienna will have a Vancouver House, and Vancouver will have a Vienna House.
What about the design process, any technologies testing out?
The project uses BIM technology, or building information modeling—tools that take us from design to construction, to asset management. The approach will help us test its potential for building faster and more efficiently, with fewer changes.
What affordable housing challenges do you hope this project will help address?
The challenges really are quite complex right now. We want to build high-quality housing, we want to do it affordably, we want to do it efficiently in order to reduce costs and make sure the housing is available as soon as possible for those who need it. We also want to make sure that we’re addressing climate change in our construction, and really learning and benefiting from the technologies that are emerging there.
What will success look like for you?
Success is really going to be about the end user. It’s gonna be about the people who get to live there, their experience. It’s also going to be about us, the people who will be learning from the process. How can we provide high quality housing really with an integrated team? And, how do we scale that across the building industry? If we can make headway on that, we will have succeeded.
Famous last words: Why is Vienna House such a big deal?
What’s really exciting about this is the way that we’re taking collaboration to another level. It’s adopting these really important technologies, such as building information modeling. But, it’s also extending that out to understand the user, to understand how people are going to live in this space. It’s addressing climate change, it’s addressing affordability, it’s really making sure we’ve got people at the center of what we do. I mean, it’s a really exciting time for BC Housing and for this whole industry to really take that great leap forward.