Unbuilt Vancouver: Vertical Vistas


Vertical Vistas concept rendering by Jordan Grubner
Vertical Vistas concept rendering by Jordan Grubner

“People have become escapist: they go up their elevators, point their backs to their neighbours, and look out at the view.”
Nick Milkovich

Condominiums have often been criticized as vertical, gated communities in the sky. Constraints such as security, fire codes, and compact living further conflates this social isolation, driving residents into silos. Although a condo-dweller may share immediate borders with many neighbours, the form of the building offers little opportunity to connect with anyone and there are precious few communal spaces from which to develop a mutual sense of stewardship and affection for the building and community at large. Michael Geller, a local architect and developer, has stated “I am waiting for the earthquake so I can finally meet my neighbours!”

Jordan Grubner, a Masters of Architecture student studying under Inge Roecker at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at UBC, has developed a new type of condominium in an attempt to offer residents more opportunities to feel connected. His work comes coincidental to the completion of New Jubilee House, a new project “with spaces enhanced by programming to encourage friendships and connections between residents.”

Jordan has named the concept project Vertical Vistas, which eliminates the hallways from a typical condominium and replaces them with wider breezeways open to the outside air. The breezeways provide additional natural light into the deepest parts of the building, add better views to units that would otherwise be obstructed, and offer communal amenity spaces and gardens along the decks. Jordan further describes the project:

JG: We are going vertical in Vancouver. I asked myself how vertical can we go and still maintain a strong sense of community? I connected two towers with open spaces in between; these open spaces serve as a place of interaction, with great views and light. People could sunbathe, read, garden, and party up there. There are a handful of community rooms throughout and a kitchen area on the top floor which integrates with the community gardens on the breezeways. There are block parties hosted on the breezeways once a month. There is a light industrial shop on the first floor for the community as well.

I think it would be popular because it is different. The kind of residents that would want to live here desire a stronger sense of connection with their neighbours, and there are a lot of people like that in Vancouver. I would encourage friends and family to buy a whole floor at once if a project like this were to hit the market; it would kick-start a sense of community into the building on the first day.

This first concept project is set at Hastings and Hawkes. The Hastings Corridor has massive untapped potential; we should not be afraid to innovate as we fill it in.

If you are interested in Jordan and his work you can reach him at grubnerj@gmail.com

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James is an architect and writer from Vancouver, British Columbia with a passion for affordable housing, public space, design, and the Pacific Northwest. James has worked on architecture projects across the lower mainland and has written for Canadian Architect, Objekt International, and Price Tags. He holds a Masters in Architecture from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design and a Bachelors of Applied Science in Civil-Structural Engineering from the University of Waterloo. James has been an AIBC architectural awards jury member, has served on UBC SALA Thesis Committee, and was awarded a special mention in the Urbanarium's Missing Middle competition. He lives in Gastown with his wife Errin, a cool optometrist responsible for his maple glasses.