Reinventing the Vancouver Special

Reinventing the Vancouver Special

Tammy Everts
Feb 5, 2010

You don't have to spend much time in Vancouver before you start noticing the ubiquitous box-like houses known locally as Vancouver Specials. These large, solidly built – but, by pretty much unanimous assent, ugly – structures popped up all over the city between roughly 1965 and 1985. Long decried as an urban eyesore, the Vancouver Special has recently attracted interest in its potential to be reinvented as a modernist dwelling. Impossible, you say? Click through the photo gallery to see "after" photos of the house above.

Spearheaded by local firm Pechet and Robb, the radical transformation of Lakewood Residence is an inspiring example of how to turn an architectural sow's ear into a silk purse. So inspiring, in fact, that in 2005 it received a Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Innovation Award for Architecture.

From the company's website:

The renovation removed the existing interior walls, creating open living areas with large terrace doors opening to outdoor garden courts. Exposed wood framing and skylights replace what had been cramped dry-walled spaces.

A subsequent building phase has added a 400 sq. ft. accessory building housing a garage and studio and a completed garden.

Take a more thorough tour on the Pechet and Robb website.

Want to check out more Vancouver Specials in all their original glory? It's 2010. You knew there had to be a website dedicated to them, right?

(Images: Nic Lehoux and Stephanie Robb)

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