The Barclay Village development in Vancouver’s west end highlights Büro Ole Scheeren’s attempts to create new architectural typologies promoting social cohesiveness in dense urban contexts.
German-based architect Ole Scheeren’s design reflects on the heterogeneous urban context of the surrounding area by stacking cubic volumes of varying size to form two modulated towers. The volumes are offset to create multiple receding platforms, balconies, and terraces resembling the network of diverse small-scale spaces at the street level.
Commissioned by Bosa and Kingswood Properties, the development merges a diverse mix of residences with public amenities, communal spaces, and a network of green areas that extends to the building’s top floors.
“Tower typologies by default reinforce isolation and division but Barclay Village proposes a design that becomes an extension of the local neighbourhood and community, and that opens up the confines of the tower to reconnect architecture with its natural and social environment,” says Scheeren.
The twin towers are not conceived as separate entities but are closely connected with each other and the natural and urban spaces around them. Above the ground levels, a multilayered bridge physically joins the two structures, creating a semi-internal courtyard that is both protected whilst remaining open to the street. In contrast to the typical tower base with hard street edges and limited access, the design for the project proposes a softer, permeable approach with a series of receding plateaus allowing the surrounding greenery to overgrow them and fuse the structures into the streetscape.
“Through the integration of nature on the various terraced spaces of the twin towers, we are extending the typology of the ‘tower in the park’ defined by Vancouver’s West End Plan through the idea of bringing the ‘park into the tower’,” says Scheeren.
The space between the towers is precisely defined rather than merely residual, with the various ground-level amenities—lobbies, gym, retail, and recreational facilities, as well as a daycare centre on the upper levels—spilling into the courtyard. Open terraces and sky gardens extend the landscape from the courtyard and connector levels upwards into the towers, populating the residences with outdoor green spaces.