Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Photos / Ema Peter
Contractor / Boydco
Point Grey Laneway, also known as Miko Laneway, is a re-imagination of the traditional colonial style laneways proposed by the City of Vancouver’s Laneway program into form based and respectful of the Japanese Canadians that have lived in Vancouver for generations. The project was executed as a collaboration between Vancouver design firm Campos Studio and Blue Design.
The intent of Vancouver’s Laneway Program is to provide affordable rental housing through soft density. Its context are the garages, carports and services which the original planners intended to keep away from green streets of the City’s leafy residential neighbourhoods.
The guidelines that govern laneways have focused on the production of a form that replicates the city’s predominant craftsman revival form while missing the more important goal of developing new urban forms that reflect the actual inhabitants and engage what were previously secondary service spaces.
Laneways are allowed a maximum of 940 square feet though due to Vancouver’s lot sizes the majority are 640 square feet. With this restriction, the most important goal becomes how to make this minimal space a truly liveable environment.
Although most Laneways are rented out for additional income there is growing number of laneways whose goal is multi-generational living for families. A strategy which allows for aging in place as well as skirting the City stratospheric land costs.
The Miko laneway is a project that is bringing together three generations of a Japanese Canadian family and allow them to support each other as they age in place. The laneway brings the daughter back to lot where she grew up, while her mother remains in the main house where she can accommodate her visiting grandchildren.
The project embraced the family’s Japanese heritage and embraced the ideas of contrasting elements making a whole, that imperfection and variation create rather than detracts from beauty, that embraces the nature of materials, pursues a dialogue with its context and eschews symmetrical compositions in favour of asymmetry and balance.
The building form was intentionally asymmetric and clad in hand stained split face shakes and metal. The shakes were chosen for the individuality that their heavy texturing provides. While the hand staining was chosen to ensure variation and imperfection. The dark colour is an assertive contrast to the cloud grey and pale blue skies as well as providing a backdrop to the striking blossoms of the mature plumb tree in their garden. It also stands in contrast to the warm white interior which is foreshadowed in the soffits and cut outs which are lined with custom sized cedar boards hand tinted with a translucent white stain.
The interior is defined by the contrast between the dark tinted concrete floors and the white interiors. The white interiors are structured by wood elements clad in the white stained siding material that assert their imperfection and stand in contrast to the industrial smooth surfaces which bound the interior volume.
The Miko Laneway embraces the Japanese traditions of the family it serves though the creation of a sensitive modern response that facilitates multi-generational living and contributes to the transition of Vancouver’s laneways from secondary service spaces to liveable streets.