This project was conceived as an infill to replace a forlorn post-war duplex caught between two typical stucco walk-ups in south Vancouver. The distinctive form of the building comes about as a resolution of conflicting influences originating in municipal zoning guidelines, developer greed and cultural bias. "Daylight containment angles" are geometric restrictions which dictate the way in which a new building occupies the space adjacent to its side-yards, and therefore its immediate neighbours. When a building is wide enough to amortize these setbacks over its entire mass, the brutal effect of the containment angles is generally not apparent in the form of the building. The architect simply shores in the whole mass, or uses judicious outcroppings to fill most of the allowable envelope without being subject to compromising geometries.
When, however, the lot is minimised, as in the case of this project, the conspicuous angling of the side walls becomes unavoidable. There is a widely circulated urban myth in Vancouver that Chinese people avoid renting or buying into buildings that are "coffin-shaped", and so, it became of utmost importance to avoid this reference at all costs. The solution to this problem was found in "rounding" the angled corners of the side walls. The effect of this was to invite a whole new set of "comparatively neutral" references (football, submarine) and create a new typology which celebrates the plastic qualities of the wood-frame stucco-clad walk-up. As the little building is nestled into a tight space between two boxy stucco counterparts, it was decided that the exterior treatment of the new building should match as much as possible with its neighbours, while claiming its individuality through its plastic form and slightly elevated height. In this way, the project proposes a new model of neighbourliness, whereby, compatibility and individuality are combined in a single gesture, reinforcing continuity and suggesting new directions simultaneously.