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Courtesy of Shape Architecture


EcoHeritage offers an alternative approach to densification without eroding the unique scale and patterns found in Vancouver neighbourhoods, by exploring the viability of heritage revitalization with low-energy design. The result is an exciting and charged space where individual moves at the scale of the lot have the potential to create linkages at the scale of the neighbourhood and city.

The project obtained funding from the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources LiveSmart program through a highly competitive process. The goal of the LiveSmart program is to construct the 100 most energy efficient residential units and schools in BC. Operating from sound first principals of passive design and solar orientation, the project uses highly insulated, air tight walls, solar hot water heating, and an electric car to reduce its energy footprint. [1]

Density is something of an obsession around Vancouver as the metro region prepares for an influx of over one million new residents in the next 25 years. Preparation thus far has been largely limited to massive podium-tower developments for which public opinion has soured in recent years. Vancouverites are demanding different forms of density, but many new proposals draw heavy neighbourhood opposition. This process usually creates a stalemate between two unworkable outcomes: the total destruction of neighbourhoods, or stagnation. It’s a particular issue in older neighbourhoods near the downtown core, flush with heritage homes that are charming but energy-sucking hogs—leaving density on the table and driving up the cost of housing for everyone.

The project’s success has been swiftly and widely recognized. The Union Street project meets LEED Platinum targets and achieves an EnerGuide score of 89. The architects and their clients were awarded two of the City of Vancouver’s inaugural Urban Design Awards. Neighbouring municipalities are studying the project to inform their community plans and design guidelines. [2]


[1]       “Union Street EcoHeritage.” SHAPE Architecture. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://shapearchitecture.ca/projects/union-street-ecoheritage/.

[2]         Healey, Courtney. “Back to the Future.” Canadian Architect, January 1, 2015. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/union-street-ecoheritage.

Additional information:

Ditmars, Hadani. “Union Street ECOheritage by Shape Architecture.” Dwell, December 18, 2019. https://www.dwell.com/article/as-housing-costs-soar-two-homes-multiply-to-seven-31f19f57.

Eco Heritage project. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.vancouvericf.com/ecoHeritage.php.

Inside the Union Street EcoHeritage Project. YouTube. YouTube, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPjHC0XF28g.

“Tour: Union Street ECOHeritage.” H O M E, February 16, 2018. https://housingourmatureelders.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/tour-union-street-ecoheritage/.

Project Title: Union Street EcoHeritage
Artists:  Shape Architecture
Year: 2013

Place: Vancouver, British Columbia

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