A bold new architectural addition to Vancouver’s skyline will add a new twist to some truly ancient concepts.
The Beach and Howe Tower, which has been planned for downtown Vancouver, employs solar orientation techniques first conceived by the ancient Greeks and Romans. By carefully planning the site to make the most of its positioning compared to the sun, the uniquely-shaped 49-storey building will allow for better sustainability and less impact from solar heat.
The tower, which is slated to feature as many as 600 units among other uses, starts off with a triangular floor plate that gently curves and morphs into a rectangular shape on the upper levels. The building’s unusual shape will provide a number of benefits for those who will call it home.
For starters, by taking up a smaller floor plate on the ground level, the building is able to be set back further than would otherwise have been possible from the Granville Bridge. This provides a much-needed buffer from noise and air pollution. With no windows or balconies overlooking the heavy traffic below, architecture firm BIG was able to achieve that goal.
As the building ascends, its form cantilevers out into a more conventional rectangular shape. Upper units are naturally more protected from pollution, making the more traditional style of building more feasible while still preventing overt exposure to noise and smog.
The building has also been positioned so as to avoid the effects of solar gain, a tactic popularized in ancient times, when Greeks and Romans based the placement of doors and windows in their buildings on the structures’ positioning relative to the sun. By protecting the units from unwelcome excess solar heat, the unique shape therefore serves a dual purpose.
BIG founder Bjarke Ingels said the Beach and Howe Tower’s esthetic was inspired by an iconic site with a similarly unique design in the United States.
“The Beach and Howe Tower is a contemporary descendant of the Flatiron Building in New York City – reclaiming the lost spaces for living as the tower escapes the noise and traffic at its base,” he said.
Of course, the unique design also serves another purpose, allowing the tower to stand out with a fresh look in Vancouver.
The building will host additional green features, such as green roofs and terraces. Taken together, the builders hope these factors will allow it to attain LEED Gold Certification.