An affordable rental housing pilot project is underway in Vancouver that will help BC Housing evaluate innovative building materials and designs aimed at tackling affordability, inclusion and climate change.

The project, called Vienna House, is in the initial design phase. It will be proposed as a six-storey building with approximately 100 units at the intersection of Victoria Drive and Stainsbury Avenue in East Vancouver. The project is a partnership between BC Housing, the City of Vancouver (through the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency), and More Than a Roof Housing Society.

“In responding to our housing crisis and the climate crisis, there’s lots of work to do,” said David Eby, B.C.’s Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “Vienna House is part of how we are taking action. Responding to the housing crisis with 100 units and the climate crisis with high energy efficiency, this project will allow BC Housing to test different approaches to prefabrication, building information modelling and integrated design. Our goal remains building affordable, healthy and sustainable homes quickly and efficiently, and Vienna House will be part of the solution.”

Vienna House will showcase innovative materials and processes designed to deliver high-energy performance with very low greenhouse gas emissions. This includes exploring prefabricated building components made from renewable materials and an integrated design process that brings all partners together at regular intervals to solve project challenges and maximize opportunities for efficiency.

This building would provide rental homes for a range of households, including low- to moderate-income individuals, families, seniors and those facing accessibility barriers.

“Vienna House is such a unique project in that all of the partners are coming together really early in the process,” said Lee Anne Michayluk, CEO, More Than a Roof Housing Society. “This means we as the housing provider are able to have input into the homes and community spaces where our tenants are going to live and interact. It also means we’re addressing the big issues of affordability, livability and climate change in a collaborative way, rather than trying to find solutions in silos.”

The Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency and Vancouver’s Public: Architecture + Communication are creating the initial design concept for Vienna House and moving it through the rezoning process. The application to the City of Vancouver for rezoning is expected to be submitted in summer 2021.

If approved, the project would be built to meet the requirements of the Passive House standard. As a result, future tenants would use very little energy for heating and cooling and, in compliance with the City of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan, the building would be designed to minimize climate pollution. If approved, the project would welcome its first tenants in late 2023, at which point ownership and management would be transferred to the More Than a Roof Housing Society.

The Urban Innovation Research Group at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Sustainability Initiative would study Vienna House in depth, from start to finish, to ensure the project creates a wealth of evidence to inform construction best practices and policy development.

Featured Image: Artistic rendering of the reciprocal “Vancouver House” affordable rental housing project in Vienna, Austria as part of the green building design research project between the City of Vienna and the City of Vancouver. (Office le Nomade)

 

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