“We’ve always been interested in small space designs and what can be done with the remaining parts of the city.”
A lot just 9 feet wide and 60 feet deep sounds like an unlikely space for a free-standing family home.
Maybe it would fit a really nice parking spot, mini-zoo, or a really short drive, but that’s not Bryn Davidson’s plan. His company, Lanefab, has bought the small property on William Street near Commercial Drive and eventually he hopes to turn it into a home.
A very narrow one.
“We’ve always been interested in designing small spaces and what can be done with the remaining parts of the city,” Davidson said. Vancouver is great.
He shares some early drafts of what might go on the site.
“The ground floor has a typical living room, kitchen and dining room,” he says. “Upstairs there is possibly a home office with a second bedroom and then potentially a roof terrace. “It depends on the heights allowed.”
On Twitter, he called the project “a little beast”.
The interior could vary between 8 and 8.5 feet wide; the new technology means the walls could be quite thin except in areas needed for structural strength. He thinks the experience of living inside the space would be comparable to some condos in Vancouver.
Although it may be the narrowest house in Vancouver, if built it will have company.
“Vancouver has narrow houses,” he says. “There are some that are only 10, 12 or 15 feet that have been built, so we know it’s doable.”
Other towns have them; Davidson estimates that there are probably around 50 similar houses around the world.
In addition to this, although not a house, Vancouver has an extremely narrow structure in the Jack Chow building, which measures 4 feet 10 inches at the base (although Davidson notes that its bay windows at the second floor open it a little).
He notes that the project does not follow current rules, but he wants to push what is possible. As designed, it would require a zoning waiver, but would meet safety regulations. However, he believes that the zoning rules are not suitable for atypical lands.
“Our zoning rules are designed for typical lots and the rules often don’t work very well for small or large lots,” Davidson says, calling some parts of the zoning “arbitrary concerns.”
“A lot of zoning rules have to do with the aesthetics and perceived suitability of the neighborhood,” he adds.
This hampers creativity, which he says is needed to tackle the housing and climate crisis.
“We would have to do creative things with the way [this narrow house is] built, but the first hurdle is zoning,” he says.
On the housing crisis, Davidson says the house, when completed, would likely cost between $700,000 and $800,000.
Things are still in the early stages, however, and the draft isn’t necessarily exactly what will happen, though Davidson hopes the city is open to the idea of a stand-alone home on the property.
If it’s approved and they move forward with a plan that’s essentially identical to his project, he says there are already people interested in what’s being built, even if it’s unconventional.
“We’ve always been interested in trying to push the conversation about what’s possible,” he says. “It didn’t make much sense financially, but we bought [the property] because we’re interested in doing that kind of stuff.”