Adaptable and scalable, our HABITAT-360 design proposal for Downtown Vancouver bridges community building and zero waste. 

Widely reported statistics show growing office floorspace vacancy rates across Canada and in Vancouver. One of the most densely built-up areas in Canada, Downtown is Vancouver’s CBD – as well as a vibrant shopping and night-time destination. Although it also enjoys a statistically high proportion of residential towers for a CBD, its geographical constraints mean that housing is not accessible or affordable to many. 

Responding to this, we have taken 595 Howe Street, the ‘Good Earth Building’, as an example of a ‘typical’ building suitable for retrofit. Our zero-waste concept offers more housing by repurposing office stock as residential, challenging established typologies and zoning to create affordability. 

Up to 80% of this building’s embodied carbon could be within its structure – which can be retained and supplemented with a series of lightweight modular homes inserted within its existing frame.  

Each home module is customisable – suitable for single occupiers or expanded to create family homes. Any offcuts generated in the production of the pods are used to create joinery items – all designed to be demountable and last several building life-cycles. 

The principles illustrated here could be applied throughout this neighbourhood.  Reusing and repurposing existing buildings is one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate unnecessary waste while retaining a sense of place, character and identity.