Project's Summary

Transforming a Neighbourhood: 60 West Cordova

Henriquez Partners Architects has created a prototype for affordable home ownership in Vancouver’s notoriously expensive city. 60 West Cordova is a 96-unit residential tower located in one of the poorest areas of Canada. The project was developed based on the principles of inclusivity and doing more with less, with conscious design decisions to keep costs low.

To ensure that locals who had been living, working, or volunteering in the troubled neighbourhood had preferential ability to purchase, restrictions on ownership were applied. Buyers were required to live in their own unit, curbing purely investment-driven purchasing. The project has extended its support to the local community by granting several units – at cost – to non-profit partners, the Portland Hotel Society and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Vancouver, to house individuals in their programs.

The development has transformed an empty lot that was a visual void into a vibrant addition to the neighbourhood. Its modern architectural vocabulary draws inspiration from its historic surroundings, with the façade ordered by the use of vertical pilasters, punched opening appearance, and vertically oriented windows. The ground floor includes commercial retail units that link the retail activity of Woodward’s on one side of the building to Army & Navy on the other.

An integral part of the building’s exterior is a public art component with painted glass spandrel panels that glow in the evening. The panels feature silhouettes of “people supporting people” and in-turn “supporting the building”. The work is a gesture to the community, where people are helping others achieve remarkable things in the Downtown Eastside.

60 West Cordova is a pioneering project in Vancouver’s housing market. It is a prototype that offers a way forward for affordable home ownership in a city where housing has become a commodity. By prioritising inclusivity and doing more with less, the project has transformed a neighbourhood and created a vibrant addition to the city’s skyline.

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