Dezeen Magazine

Vancouver House by BIG

BIG unveils twisted skyscraper designed "in the tradition of Flatiron"

Danish architecture studio BIG has unveiled the 155-meter-high Vancouver House skyscraper in Canada that twists upwards from a triangular base.

Completed in 2020 but recently photographed, the building has a twisted form that derives from its wedge-shaped site alongside the ramps leading to Granville bridge in the city's downtown.

Vancouver House has a distinctive form
BIG has unveiled its 155-meter-high Vancouver House skyscraper

This distinctive form is designed to ensure the structure is set back 30 metres from the bridge at its base and to avoid overshadowing a local park, the studio said. 

BIG founding partner Bjarke Ingels likened this to the constraints that led to the Flatiron building in New York's form.

Skyscraper in downtown Vancouver
The skyscraper's form derives from its site near Granville bridge

"The Vancouver house is a contemporary descendent 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," said Ingels.

"In the tradition of Flatiron the Vancouver House architecture is not the result of formal excess or architectural idiosyncrasies but rather a child of its circumstances. The trisected site and concerns for neighboring buildings and park spaces."

BIG skyscraper
It rises from a triangular base

The 52-storey skyscraper rises from a podium as its base, which contains a gym and daycare and pool.

Above the podium, the 60,600-square-metre skyscraper has a triangular plan that grows into a rectangular form on its upper levels like "a genie let out of the bottle".

"Vancouver House emerges subtly from the ground and expands as it rises, appearing like a genie let out of the bottle," said the studio.

"What seems like a surreal gesture is in fact a highly responsive architecture – shaped by its environment." 

Pool in Canada
The skyscraper has a podium with an outdoor pool

On its east and west facades, the skyscraper has a gridded appearance created by the regularly spaced balconies, while the underside of its overhang features box-shaped balconies.

BIG hopes that the project, along with the creation of several art spaces below the neighbouring underpass, will serve as a blueprint for developing constrained sites in cities.

Skyscraper balconies
Its balconies give it a gridded appearance

"A model for how to approach urban design, the transformation of the Vancouver House site shows how forgotten spaces under, above, and around infrastructure can be reclaimed by the public and offer spaces for art and community gathering," said the studio.

"By transforming the underside of the bridge into a venue for public art, the new urban space responds to the city's shortage of cultural performance and event spaces."

Led by Ingels, BIG is one of the world's best-known architecture studios. Its The Spiral supertall skyscraper is under construction in New York and its "infinity loop" skyscraper is set to be built in Hangzhou.

The photography is by Laurian Ghinitoiu.

Project credits:

Client: Westbank Projects
Architect of record: Dialog
Collaborators:  Integral Group, PFS Studio, Buro Happold, Glotman Simpson, James KM Cheng Architects, LMDG, Nemetz & Associates, HLB Lighting Design, BVDA Facade Engineering, Morrison Hershfield, ICON Pacific
BIG team:
Partners in charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen, Beat Schenk
Project leader: Agustín Pérez-Torres
Project manager/designer: Carl MacDonald, Melissa Bauld
Team members: Aaron Mark, Alan Tansey, Alex Wu, Alexandra Gustafsson, Alina Tamosiunaite, Amina Blacksher, Aran Coakley, Arash Adel Ahmadian, Armen Menendian, Barbora Srpkova, Ben Zunkeler, Benjamin Caldwell, Benjamin Novacinski, Bennett Gale, Birk Daugaard, Blake Theodore Smith, Brian Foster, Brian Rome, Carolien Schippers, Christopher James Malcolm Jr., Christopher Junkin, Christopher Tron, David Brown, David Dottelonde, Deborah Campbell, Doug Stechschulte, Douglass Alligood, Edward Yung, Elena Bresciani, Filip Milovanovic, Francesca Portesine, Gabriel Hernandez Solano, Gabriel Jewell-Vitale, Hector Garcia, Ivy Hume, Jan Leenknegt, Janice Rim, John Kim, Josiah Poland, Julian Liang, Julianne Gola, Julie Kaufman, Karol Bogdan Borkowski, Kurt Nieminen, Lauren Turner, Lorenz Krisai, Lucio Santos, Marcella Martinez, Martin Voelkle, Matthew Dlugosz, Megan Ng, Michael Robert Taylor, Otilia Pupezeanu, Paula Domka, Phillip MacDougall, Ryan Yang, Sean Franklin, Sebastian Grogaard, Simon Scheller, Spencer Hayden, Taylor Fulton, Terrence Chew, Terry Lallak, Thomas Smith, Tianqi Zhang, Tobias Hjortdal, Tran Le, Valentina Mele, Xinyu Wang, Yaziel Juarbe, Yoanna Shivarova, Zach Walters, Zhifei Xu

Dezeen is on WeChat!

Click here to read the Chinese version of this article on Dezeen's official WeChat account, where we publish daily architecture and design news and projects in Simplified Chinese.

More images and plans

Vancouver House by BIG plans
10th floor plan
Vancouver House by BIG plans
20th floor plan
Vancouver House by BIG plans
34th floor plan
Vancouver House by BIG plans
47th floor plan
Vancouver House by BIG plans
Podium level plan
Vancouver House by BIG plans
Vancouver House by BIG plans
Vancouver House by BIG plans
Site plan
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper
Vancouver House skyscraper