60 West Cordova is located in one of the poorest areas of Canada, and is a prototype for affordable home ownership in a notoriously expensive city where housing has become a commodity.
Based on the principles of inclusivity and doing more with less, the 96-unit project includes a residential tower with very limited parking and conscious design decisions to keep costs low. Restrictions on ownership were applied to ensure locals who had been living, working or volunteering in the troubled neighbourhood had preferential ability to purchase. And in a somewhat radical move, these buyers were also required to live in their own unit, curtailing purely investment-driven purchasing.
Further extending support to the local community, several units were granted - 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. Echoing rather than replicating the heritage context, the façade is ordered by the use of vertical pilasters, it has a punched opening appearance with roughly equal solid to void ratios, windows are vertically oriented, and overall the building’s façade emulates the typical streetscape rhythm of the surrounding heritage buildings. 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.