Yan Residence by D’Arcy Jones
Vancouver is a city of architectural extremes: thousands of pint-sized condominiums on the downtown peninsula and, across the water, enormous single-family houses. Architect D’Arcy Jones has forged a name for himself with the clever orchestration of small and mid-size houses. But his latest project, a spacious residence on the city’s west side, offers a different solution: a kind of micro-village for an extended family.
Built for an art-collecting couple and their two teenage kids, the Yan Residence addresses a growing phenomenon of contemporary family living: how to incorporate secondary dwellings without sacrificing the inherent privacy of a single-family home. In this case, the clients wanted to include future accommodation for aging parents. In the end, Jones designed three autonomous living units on the one-acre lot while sequestering each from the noisy thoroughfare that fronts the property.
The complex reads like a collection of pristine white cubist structures, textured by stucco and white-stained cedar batten and defined by overhangs, cutaways, reveals, and a projecting chimney. The clients chose white as the dominant color—their favorite hue (even matching the cars in the driveway). And, from Jones’s perspective, white walls inside and out were the perfect choice to contrast with the bright art within.
Configuring the two secondary suites, each with a complete kitchen, bath, bedroom, and living area, made for a Rubik’s Cube–like challenge. The first is contained within the 6,000-square-foot main house but has a separate entrance path. The second, larger unit is a detached 1,500-square-foot residence at the northern edge of the lot, designed in the same language as the larger structure and with its own window pattern turned away from it.
The main house is designed for strategic opacity, with only minimal glazing adjacent to its deeply recessed front door. Walking up to it, visitors have no sense of the other dwellings. To avoid interior window-to-window sightlines, Jones conceived the home to be inward-looking, its living spaces arranged around glazed courtyards. Upon entering, highlights from the couple’s art collection are visible through the glass walls of the largest courtyard.
In every direction, there are glimpses of greenery: on the west wall, through a long slot window in the double-height kitchen; on the north, through a series of sliding glass doors; and, opposite the central courtyard, windows look onto 6- to 10-foot-high cedar hedges that conceal the long entrance path to the detached house at the back of the property. The interior space is flooded with daylight, punctuated by carefully controlled views to the outdoors that bear little trace of the other households.
Jones harnessed what he calls “the power of landscape architecture” to demarcate the three units while visually unifying the overall design. It also adds a psychological layer of distance from the city. “It’s not about not liking your neighbors,” says Jones. “It’s about a sense of wellbeing and feeling safe.”
D'Arcy Jones Architecture
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Principal: D'Arcy Jones
Dan Wicke Wicke Herft Maver Engineers
Landscape softscape: Considered Design
Landscape hardscape: D'Arcy Jones Architecture Inc
Cast in place concrete, wood frame construction, steel moment frames
Metal/glass curtain wall: Western Window and Door by Pinnacle Glass
Built-up roofing: SBS 2 ply torch-on roofing membrane
Metal frame: Western Window and Door
Glass: Thermo-pane Low-E Argon filled
Skylights: Frames: Western Window and Door Thermo-pane Low-E Argon filled
Entrances: Q-Point Kitchens Ltd.
Wood doors: Q-Point Kitchens Ltd.
Sliding doors: Q-Point Kitchens Ltd.
Pulls: Custom stainless steel by architect
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Q-Point Kitchens Ltd.
Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore
Paneling: Q-Point Kitchens Ltd.
Special surfacing: Caesarstone Quartz
Floor and wall tile: Honed basalt
Special interior finishes unique to this project: Custom white oak hardwood floors:
Chairs: Inform Interiors
Tables: Bensen Inform Interiors
Upholstery: Inform Interiors
Downlights: Lightolier recessed halogen
Energy management or building automation system: Heat pump