The Laneway Small House Phenomenon in Vancouver

Guest post from our friends at SmallWorks.ca where they construct small, beautiful, sustainable houses, while working with established licensed architects.

Perched on the edge of the West Coast, Vancouver, BC is known for soaring mountains, beach life, and non-stop outdoor recreation. Also cosmopolitan and diverse, its combined attractions make the city a magnet for people across Canada as well as around the world. Over the next 35 years, Vancouver proper is expected to grow by 139,000, while the region as a whole will hit 3.4 million.

Small House Front View

Of course, the big question is, where will all these people live? The continuing influx of new urban residents, the physical restrictions of a city hemmed in by mountains and sea, as well as the shortage of affordable housing, have led to decreasing housing options for Vancouverites. Taking into account the continued growth, the City of Vancouver adopted the Ecodensity Charter in 2009 with the goal of increasing the number of homes for an affordable, sustainable and liveable future. The immediate result of this initiative was to create more affordable housing with the allowance of additional options in single-family neighbourhoods including laneway housing, secondary suites, and basement suites.

Little Living Room

Our company, Smallworks Studios and Laneway Housing, worked closely with the City to develop municipal plans and regulations for the innovative laneway house concept. These small detached homes sit at the back of a regular size single-family lot where a garage would normally be. Ranging from 500-750 square feet in size, a laneway house is usually 1 and half stories high, providing an ideal compact home from 1 person, a couple, or even a very small family. These laneway houses are available for rental, extended family, and guests; they increase choices for Vancouverites by providing infill housing that also retain the look of single-family house neighbourhoods.

Small House Kitchen

While providing Vancouver residents with more places to live, the laneway house also encourages a number of other philosophies that Smallworks value: the beauty of living small and modestly in affordable housing, the opportunity to downsize and live efficiently, as well as the important respect for the environment. A perfect example is a recent build which was constructed in the popular Dunbar neighbourhood of Vancouver. The one and half story loft is a sleek example of West Coast Modernism and stands a mere 500 square feet in space. The upstairs includes the bedroom and lounge with balcony, the downstairs – a spacious dining / kitchen area. Unlike the condo life, residents of this and other laneway houses also enjoy outdoor space with landscaping and generous patio areas.

Small Kitchen

High quality in design, this lane house is clad in cedar and features polished concrete floors. Its efficient layout includes galley-style seating in the kitchen and built-in bench seating and storage in the dining area. Plus a 4 foot crawlspace under the ground floor provides additional space for big items like bikes. The sustainable focus on our design also allows options for the flat roof – including the potential for a green roof and / or solar panel installations. In short, the small laneway house encapsulates the possibilities of living an attractive and sustainable way of life, as well as developing affordable housing options for a rapidly expanding city.

Small House Front Night view

Smallworks Studios and Laneway Housing designs and builds beautiful and sustainable small homes in Vancouver, Canada. Visit our website here www.smallworks.ca

Photo Credits go to: buildsmall.blogspot.com as well as the main site Smallworks.ca.

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