— f s o a r k





The proposed residential development sits within a single corner lot of 44 ft x 130 ft, in the zoning district RM-9BN of the newly implemented Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct. The project consists of a single, three-story tall building comprising three side-by-side townhouses and three lock-off rental suites. The total building area is 6,885 square feet (1.20 FSR).

All units will have a combined living and dining area, a kitchen and a bathroom with accessible shower on the main floor. Each principal residence suite will have three bedrooms on the top floor, and a flexible room on the second floor, convertible to a home office. The lock-off units will have one bedroom. All principal dwellings will have a private roof terrace. All lock-off units will have a semi-private terrace within the front yard. Landscaping is designed to provide practical use within the 12 ft front yard setback as well as a plantation to enhance the street-scape.

In designing the townhouses, we have taken inspiration from the canal houses in Amsterdam with respect to scale, proportion, and rhythm; as well as similar developments locally, choosing massing and materials that are compatible with climatic and budget requirements. With merely 44 ft x 130 ft and no lot assembly, the size of the site is relatively small when compared with future multifamily developments within the Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct. The proposed development seeks to achieve unity with an overall contemporary and minimalistic material palette, at the same time demarcates individual ownership by means of volumetric variation, entry and bay window features.



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Single family speculative house projects are useful testing ground for developing residential layout that balances efficiency, livability and affordability. As real estate commodities, they are designed to appeal to the broadest market possible. But what make these projects meaningful are their relevance to the end users, in the sense that they are designed with a nuclear family in mind, for people to live in and to call homes.

While individual circumstances may require different approach to each project, we remain faithful in our belief that lasting values depend ultimately on the quality of life a house fosters, and the memories it bestows upon the family as it grows. Sensible layout; access to fresh air, natural light and views; durable construction that acquires beauty through long-term use; and the choice of materials and colours that are practical and sympathetic to the psychological well beings of adults and children alike are paramount to our works.

Windermere Residence is designed with those considerations in mind, in order to serve a purpose and a vision desperately needed in the housing market.  The project is accomplished within the constraint of a small site; its unique challenges are overcome by the open-mindedness of the client and the dedication of the design and construction team.


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The NCI Wellness Centre and Ward Complex is situated in a wooded area a short drive away from a nearby satellite urban centre.  Given the abundance of views and natural light, and their importance to the well being of patients, we have, in a straight forward and consistent manner, created a façade by sizing the window openings according to the different programmatic needs, while introducing subtle shifts in their positions in order to “de-institutionalized” an otherwise repetitive façade layout typical in institutional buildings.  The balance of discipline and play in our design strategy results in a dappling effect that softens the building into the natural surroundings.

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“History is real. Each generation has some task to perform, and part of the quest is to find what that task is.”

- Robert Motherwell, in Storming the Citadel, 2010


In architecture, Time is tangibly spatial. Taken shortly after the project was completed, in the fall of 2014, the photographs below preserve the surviving memories of an inceptive moment when the space first became “filled with time”. Against the expanse of the white oak floor and the alabaster walls, the southern light, admit through a sliver of clerestories along the ceiling, sweeps like a clock’s arm across the living space. On the other side of the hall situate the lower-lying strip windows that capture, in a single breath, a continuous scroll of the north shore mountains, magnificent under the ambience of the calmer northern sky. Whereas in smaller, private spaces such as bathrooms, natural light trickles slowly down the darker, solitary interiors, counting time by the drop. In the architect’s mind, these photographs record the fleeting sensation of a new beginning, knowing its brief existence as merely a blank canvas for the inhabitants, awaits the many seasons of their lives.

In designing Highlawn Residence, we have expanded our exploration of the temporal and emotional aspects of space, which have been standing preoccupations of our practice. Central to our thinking is the idea of essentialness, that richness in space – and in life – is proportional to the amount of artificial intervention we can do without, and what is truly meaningful can only be experienced slowly, in time passed.



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For the most part, it is difficult to speak about architectural qualities, let alone those of our own works.  We maybe able to explain certain design decisions, what seem “right” or make sense.  But qualities – particularly ones that are worth mentioning – are better left to silence and solitude.  They reside in the same realm of memories and emotions whose essence is erased the moment they are affixed with words.

In point of fact, architecture as a living art is rarely about itself.  Its genuine qualities remain implicit; its truths are manifested only in time passed.  Therefore, architectural creation is also an act of subtracting, of yielding, of letting go, so that space may let in the first light of daybreak.























The following photographs were taken in the morning of March 8th, 2013, during the final days of Yukon Residence renovation. In the course of the project, there was a precious moment when the walls came alive in the first coat of white; the aged wood floor, freshly buffed, saturated the air with renewed fragrance. I stood in the uninhabited space and observed how the dull luster of the new surfaces slowly awoke in the morning sun. The atmosphere was serene and intimate.

It is by editing out evidence of previous ownership, and replacing with a new one, that we embark on this renovation (as in many previously and perhaps ones yet to come). In addition to designing for another household and lifestyle, we ask how a space can inhabit itself, that it acquires a personality of its own autonomous from its occupant’s interventions. We feel the opportunity may lie in the non-programmed, transient spaces – a precinct that manifests the soul of the house, a “sanctuary” that is not physically occupied or altered but its physicality can be felt from the surrounding occupied rooms. We feel that the space has to be beautiful even when it is not inhabited.

The encounter on the sunny morning when the photos were taken seems to reinforce the notion of the essence of home as a priori, one that already exists before life unfolds in it, and perhaps will continue to exist in the aftermath of another belaboring moving-in/moving-out, with some enduring values that continue to bewilder us, to move us closer to itself.



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The program is a primary school for 600 children. The site is located in the middle of a quarry field, up on a mountain that overlooks the quiet La Reservé in Santiago, Chile. The program/context combination demands negotiation between different scales of the design elements: The softness and fragility of the children, and their widespread movement at play, are in stark contrast with the immensity and roughness of the exposed quarry walls. The tasks at hand are three-folded: How can these conflicting issues be resolved into a set of cohesive design principles? How can the institution create an identity for the town? What is the discipline, the Order, that makes a school a school?

The proposed design consists of a system of alternating rows of classrooms and play fields combined into a series of platforms, or terraces, which are stacked and slid against each other following the contour of the mountain. In order to allow the movement of children to activate the space, circulation is articulated as a through-flow crossing rows of play fields and classrooms, and whenever it crosses a row of classroom, public spaces such as dining hall, student lounge and library are programmed. Openings are organized to orchestrate moments of immense verticality and horizontality of the site. The heart of the design rests underneath the gigantic overhanging brise-soleli fronting each classroom. The shading device compliments the dramatic scale of the site, and defines a softer zone underneath which is modulated by color, view, light and shades. The suspended void defined by the brise-soleli is a space of no function, of stillness, of child-like wonders.















“If joy is to be found in the ordinary, the things we have in common are a stronghold of resistance in a troubled world.”

- Luis Fernandez-Galiano, Architects are Commoners

Amidst soaring housing cost and urban densification throughout Greater Vancouver, the once derided vancouver specials have regained their popularity in recent years.  Apart from their typical box-like structure, low pitched roofs and narrow balconies, what makes this notorious, mass-produced housing typology “special” is their layout, with the secondary bedrooms on the ground floor and the main living space above, connected by a stair directly accessed from the front foyer.  There is no basement in vancouver specials, making them ideal for conversion into secondary suite.  For young families desiring a lawn for their children and would not mind sharing with another household, vancouver specials offer an affordable entry point to the detached housing market, with the potential of a mortgage helper or co-ownership with relatives or in-laws.

The Yamamoto sisters and their respective spouses understood these potentials when they co-purchased and initiated the renovation of their new home.  Their challenge, however, lies in the shortage of space:  four adults and four young children would share a 2,500 sq.ft. house on a standard 33 foot wide lot, and both families spend a great deal of time together.  On regular dinner parties, the families would gather in the bottom half of the house, to which a third bedroom, a half-bathroom and a kid’s play area would have to be added in the renovation.

To overcome space deficiency, we reclaim portion of the corridor and below-stair storage for the added programs, and create circulation “through” the walls by turning portions of which into sliding partitions.  The new penetration provides a direct connection – both visually and spatially – from the living area to the bedrooms, and allows each to act as the breakout space for the others.  By further removing stud walls that divided the length of the building, a flexible living area is created.  A long kitchen island is now situated in the centre of this space, and to its front and back, a play area for the children and a lounge for the grown-ups naturally fall into place.

Like many home renovations of similar scope and budget, the YamaDuff & YamaRoth Residence Project has adopted a basic solution to solve a basic problem – namely, to bypass or break through walls in exchange for openness and flexibility.  Ostentatious architectural interventions are not justified in cost, but also undesirable.  “We want this house to resemble an experimental theatre, somewhat impromptu, so it leaves room for improvisation.” the Owners explained.  On that note, we have conceived the layers of sliding partitions as theatrical backdrops: their positions would indicate the time and activities within the space.  Shortly after the completion of the project, we had visited the house twice – one for a dinner party and the other for a photo shoot.  We have observed that not only do the sliders add much delight to the space, but what they have revealed behind is a candid image of the family itself.  Staring at the cheerful decorations within the children’s bedrooms, or looking back at the well-inhabited kitchen, we were struck in awe of how fast life can take over, and for a brief moment, could not detect where architecture ends and life begins.

Contractor: Solidwood Home
Cabinet Designer: Kerf Design
Photographer: Ray Sun Photography













“For if we are able to perform small, ordinary miracles in the kitchen day after day after day, possibly these will remind us of the greater marvels that might occur outside this room.”

- Akiko Busch, Geography of Home

Given the efficiency and economy inherent in the design of a functional space, the Nan Residence kitchen renovation was never conceived as a project merely about food preparation. Instead, we focus on creating a shared space between mother and children, a common ground where the knitting of a family can be tangibly constructed. In spirit, the project was not unlike designing a park: the children assume certain autonomy in the playground under the attention of the parent, while the parent find a quiet spot at the periphery, contemplating her own endeavors. An exchange may take place here and then. In the end, the discipline of laying out cabinet, appliance and counter space typically dominates a kitchen design has made room for a few cheerful additions. These include a bench overlooking the lower living area, a concession window serving the sun deck and a generous floor space, hosting the ever-changing improvisation of the family affair.

Contractor: Solidwood Home























The first Urban Pasture is being installed on the 1000-block of Robson Square, abutting a narrow sidewalk section in front of Café Crêpe.  As part of the VIVA 2012 Initiative, Urban Pasture provides a much-needed public amenity in the heart of downtown Vancouver, where growing pedestrian traffic is searching for a place to relax, enjoy and engage.  The project has received generous support by City of Vancouver and Café Crêpe.

Collaborators: David O’Regan, Jane Vorbrodt
Structural Engineer: Fast & Epp
Fabricator: GNW Scene Shop
Landscaper: City of Vancouver Green Streets
Photographer: Ray Sun Photography


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One of the national winners chosen to represent Canada in Venice Biennale 2012, Kite Story portrays the figurative crossroads between a childhood spent in one country and adulthood spent in another.  The project is an outcome of the Migrating Landscapes, a national competition that examines how we as Canadians express our diverse cultural memories and identities, and the settling/unsettling dynamic of migration in the contemporary society.

While the experience of immigration can be real and tangible to adults, the geographic and cultural transformation to children may lack specificity and not readily comprehensible.  The apprehension is particularly poignant for migrating preadolescents, to whom the experience becomes part of growing up, of coming to terms with their shifting identities, their subtle physical and emotional transformation – all of which are at the crossroad with the unknown affects of the new world.  Setting in the backdrop of migration from Hong Kong to Vancouver, Kite Story reflects on the moment when lingering footage of childhood memories in one place interweaves with the anxiety of growing up in another, and how the immigrating youth and the young city find meaning of coexistence in the formative years of transformation.



















In a partially subterranean condition where daylight is scarce, the streak of afternoon sun that finds its way into the basement has become a solemn reminder of the fading time and season.  To accentuate and extend this ephemeral quality, the space is conceived as a uniform canvas made with a material that has the ability to extract the essence of the afternoon sun, which is often rendered lifelessly against the minimalistic alabaster interior. A deeply stained cherry wood is chosen for the floor and all millwork stretching across the length of the space. When lit, the wood extracts the golden hue from daylight and soaks the entire space with a volumetric glow. One of the millwork units is removed to allow for a narrow entry passage. In lieu of a conventional doorway, the passage offers a prolonged experience of darkness, a vital prelude to suppress the deeper experience beyond.














The conversion of a warehouse attic into an open studio is conceived as redefining boundaries and orientations. A continuous work surface along the perimeter defines a semi-private edge where occupants can concentrate on individual tasks. In the center of the room, a communal table allows gathering and exchange to take place. The layout allows one to switch between discreet and social activities by simply changing the orientation of seating. To lessen the visual imposition of the inclined ceilings, recessed light coves are mounted hovering above the desks along the eave line. Alluding to a sky-lit eave, the light coves stitch the existing skylights together formally and spatially in one unifying gesture. At the corner of the room where the trajectories of all boundaries converge is a miniature library consists of a seating area cradled by low bookshelves. Dappled with natural light throughout the day, the mini-library offers a solitary retreat, a sanctuary for imagination and escape.