Old B.C. home learns new tricks for HOUSS heritage project
Heritage and commercial combine for this build from Conwest.
HOUSS sits in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant community. – Yamamoto Architecture
If you strolled down Vancouver’s 6th Avenue in Mount Pleasant you might end up asking yourself this question: How did a working class vernacular cottage from 1901 end up swallowed by the steel and glass of a modern commercial building?
No, you aren’t seeing things. Conwest’s HOUSS project provides a mix of strata office, light industrial, and restaurant space. HOUSS is now home to a collection of local businesses including medical offices, professional services, tech firms and Mount Pleasant Vintage & Provisions.
The contemporary, minimalist architectural style provides a backdrop for the Coulter House, an iconic Vancouver heritage home, which is incorporated as a focal point for the project.
The project and others were recently honoured by the city of Vancouver for its annual Heritage Awards.
The Heritage Awards acknowledge and celebrate the different facets of heritage in Vancouver that are reflected not only in historic buildings and places, but also through intangible heritage and the self-expressed heritage of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil-Waututh Nations, Urban Indigenous Peoples, and the many cultures of the city.
Conwest, the developer behind HOUSS, explained that the idea became reality after meeting with city officials.
“After a few meetings with the planning department and the heritage department, we realized that it was an important initiative that we, as developers, work with the city to find solutions to incorporate some of these old homes into the new projects,” Ben Taddei, CEO and partner at Conwest, in a video detailing the project.”
He explained that the Coulter House’s new function is representative of its old function. Conwest worked with Yamamoto Architecture to repurposed it to make it a public space by incorporating it into the facade.
“You see these old character homes interspersed with new industrial buildings and I think recognizing that history is very important,” said Taizo Yamamoto, owner of Yamamoto Architecture. “It provides continuity for the neighbourhood and maintains the character that’s already there, rather than starting from a clean slate every time.”
One of the biggest challenges of the project was taking the century old home, lifting it up and moving it to the project site. It had to land it in the exact right spot with the correct elevation. The team then worked to restore it during the middle of winter.
Elana Zysblat, heritage consultant, Ance Building Services, explained that the Victorian style of the home is representative of what was popular at the time.
“It has that aesthetic where buildings had a fanciness to them, some ornamentation,” she said. “It’s got some shingles on the gable. It’s got a fancy frieze with brackets and nice columns on the front porch.”
Zysblat noted that the project dispelled some misconceptions people might have about heritage work.
“Heritage doesn’t mean freezing something in time and not introducing any change,” she said. “You don’t just keep something old because it’s old. We want it to have a relevant use so that it doesn’t come at risk again.”
Check out all the Heritage Award winners below:
For projects or initiatives that highlight the self-expressed heritage of Vancouver’s communities, or for projects that support reconciliation, cultural redress, or safeguarding or regeneration of living heritage.
- Punjabi Market Revitalization
- Coming Out Of Chaos – Karen Jamieson Dance
- Motanka Creations
For the restoration, rehabilitation, adaptive re-use or continued maintenance of buildings, structures, cultural landscapes or other natural features, including seismic or sustainability upgrades.
- Hollywood Theatre, 3123 West Broadway
- St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, 1012 Nelson Street
- Sun Tower, 128 West Pender Street
- BC Securities Building, 402 West Pender Street
- Broadhurst & Whitaker Block, 3495 Commercial Street
- Coulter House, 67 West 6th Avenue
- Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street
- Mah Society of Canada Building, 137-139 East Pender Street
- UNION, 851 Union Street
Education and Awareness
For the use of a publication, exhibit, activity, social media, or website to promote tangible or intangible heritage, or celebrate diverse cultures and histories
- Chinatown Storytelling Centre
- Jewish Historic Walking Tours
- Mount Pleasant Stories Historical Walking Tours Guidebook Walk 1: Mount Pleasant’s Heritage Heart
- Vancouver Fruit Tree Histories and Communities