Gastown Rehab

Acton Ostry Architects Inc.

Jury comments: The rehabilitation of existing heritage buildings is always welcomed, and the additional new multi-storey infill construction of this project happily maintains the historic Gastown facade of Vancouver. The new construction is of high quality that does not mimic but rather complements the older buildings. The small, exquisite interior spaces, only three metres wide, feel larger, and the design makes effective use of natural light and thermal mass, geoth-ermal heating, high-efficiency heat pumps, and salvaged building materials.

In Vancouver’s Gastown heritage district, five adjacent sites [Alhambra + Garage + Cordage + Grand + Terminus] provided the critical mass necessary to make a significant contribution to the revitalization of the neighbourhood. The project combines rehabilitation with redevelopment that doubles the density of the site, providing a blend of retail and office commercial as well as residential uses.

Revitalizing historic buildings contributes to our sense of where we came from, and adding contemporary design points to where we are going. Dimensions and locations of existing windows determined the position of new floor plates and dwelling units. New contemporary dwellings behind the heritage street fronts bring renewed vitality. Commercial uses are oriented towards the rear lane - known as Blood Alley - to help increase the level of public activity in this much underutilized area.

The project uses high-efficiency water and energy systems, and active and passive mechanical systems to improve indoor air and comfort. Geothermal heating and heat pumps exploit the different commercial and residential demand cycles in order to consume less energy. Insulation was upgraded in the existing envelope, and the significant thermal mass of the construction mitigates interior temperature swings.

Circulation is concentrated in the middle of the building to maximize daylight and natural ventilation to the living and working spaces. Existing light wells were retained and, in addition to new double-glazed windows, the existing wood windows were refurbished to accept energy-efficient glazing.The existing masonry and heavy timber structure was re-used, as was most of the heritage fabric. Green roofs were also integrated to reduce storm water run-off, and create a cool microclimate.


    • Client  The Salient Group
    • Architect  Acton Ostry Architects
    • Structural Engineers  Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers
    • Mechanical Engineer  for Alhambra, Cordage and Garage: Cobalt Engineering | for Terminus and Grand: Stantec    Electrical Engineer  for Alhambra: SML Consultants | for Garage, Cordage, Grand and Terminus:  Nemetz [S/A] & Associates Ltd.
    • Interior design  Evoke International Design Inc.
    • Landscape Architect  Senga Landscape Architecture Inc.
    • Heritage  Donald Luxton & Associates Inc.
    • General Contractor  for Alhambra: Heatherbrae Builders | for Garage, Cordage, Grand and Terminus: The Haebler Group & Acton Ostry Architects   PhotoS  Nic Lehoux, Martin Tessler, Bob Matheson

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