In response to both the global climate crisis and the regional housing affordability crisis, BC Housing, British Columbia’s housing authority, is proposing an innovative zero-emissions rental apartment community in East Vancouver.
Vienna House is a partnership between BC Housing, the City of Vancouver through the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, and the More Than a Roof Housing Society. The University of British Columbia’s Sustainability Initiative is documenting every aspect of the project. (Learn more.) And the City of Vienna, Austria, is participating, via a knowledge-sharing collaboration that will see a similar affordable housing project rising in that city, starting in 2022. (Learn more.) Each party is bringing its own expertise, experience, and resources to the project.
If approved, Vienna House will showcase innovative materials and processes designed to deliver high energy performance with low greenhouse gas emissions. These include:
- Prefabricated wall, floor, and ceiling components constructed off-site from renewable materials.
- Building information modelling that will create a “digital twin” of the proposed building, which will in turn allow the project team to optimize all components and systems.
- An integrated design process that brings all the partners together at regular intervals to maximize efficiencies and collaboratively solve project challenges as they emerge.
All of these approaches, working together, will hopefully make Vienna House a potential template for other affordable housing projects across Vancouver, the province, and beyond.
The project is currently at the early design stage, and its proponents expect to bring forward a rezoning proposal in approximately October 2021.
What and Where?
Vienna House will be a six storey, 123-unit dedicated rental building, in Vancouver’s Kensington – Cedar Cottage neighbourhood, at 2009-2037 Stainsbury Avenue.
Yamamoto Architecture served as the initial architectural services design lead, guiding the proposal at its earliest stages. In March 2021, following a competitive bidding process, the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency and BC Housing selected PUBLIC: Architecture + Communication to lead the design process through to completion. The Public team expects to submit a rezoning application to the City of Vancouver in July 2021; public hearings will follow.
These are early days for Vienna House. We do not yet know much about the building’s design and materials. We do know that it will:
- Offer a variety of rental housing types, from one-person studios up to three-bedroom apartments.
- Utilize innovative construction methodology, including building information modelling.
- Incorporate offsite construction and/or prefabrication strategies to increase quality control, reduce onsite construction time and neighbourhood impacts, and minimize waste.
- Target the requirements of the Passive House certification.
- Provide a high level of livability with considerately designed indoor and outdoor amenity spaces and common areas.
- Consist of approximately 83,254 square feet in gross floor area and 70,799 square feet of leasable area.
Passive House is among the more rigorous green building standards in the world. As a result, the tenants will use very little energy for heating and cooling and, in compliance with the City of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan, the building will not produce any climate pollution during operation.
Vienna House would be a six-minute walk from John Hendry Park and the Trout Lake Community Centre, and, when it is operating, the Trout Lake Farmers Market. The project site is on a major bus route and is a 10 minute walk to the nearby Nanaimo Station on the SkyTrain rapid transit system.
Pending approvals, Vienna House is aiming to welcome its first tenants in late 2023.
Who would live there?
The future tenants of Vienna House will represent the following mix of rents and incomes within a single building:
· 30 per cent: Affordable housing (moderate income)
· 50 per cent: Rent geared to income (housing income limit)
· 20 per cent: Deep subsidy (Deep Subsidy Income Limit)
The More Than a Roof Housing Society will ultimately own and operate Vienna House.
For regular updates on the project, visit News & Updates.