tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ (The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater)

  • University of British Columbia

  • Vancouver, British Columbia

exterior of student residence block with cyclist

With a seamless integration into the fabric of the existing campus, the new student residences at UBC Point Grey not only provide students with housing in a vibrant, inclusive and safe community, but also enhances the existing streetscape and pedestrian experience. 

Housing nearly 1000 student beds spread across five buildings, the spaces range from four-bedroom apartments to studios, each meticulously designed to LEED Gold standards. The design performance was set by the UBC Green Building Plan, and working with the University, future climate scenarios were tested for 2050 and 2080 – prioritising sustainability and reducing green House Gas Emissions by over 60%. 

The design utilises solar shading to ensure optimal comfort and energy efficiency for occupants, the result providing a carefully considered climate response that also gives the campus a distinct personality that blends with its existing surroundings.  A key aspect of the project is the incorporation of mixed-use spaces such as lounges, study areas, and fitness, music, and dance studios, strategically located at street level to activate and enrich the major street frontage along Student Union Boulevard.

hallway with wooden interiors and large glass window, open staircase with people

Aligned with the University Boulevard Precinct Design Guidelines and Neighbourhood Plan, the residences serve as more than accommodation; they are dynamic hubs fostering social connectivity and enriching student experiences.  Central to project was also the creation of a functional pedestrian corridor, designed to serve as a vital artery for student mobility in the surrounding areas and a gateway for social interaction, whilst landscaped courtyards, seating areas, and pedestrian pathways enhance the encompassing area, inviting residents and visitors to connect with their surroundings. 

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, the Okana team tackled them head on with trust, teamwork and collaboration, and by utilising our global resource. The 12-month design timeline could have also posed a potential resource challenge to the project, however Okana partner, Ryder, was able to leverage their international presence to uniquely navigate this obstacle. 

student residence building lit up at night

The team adapted by doubling the documentations team’s size, tapping into Ryder’s global resource pool, achieved through seamless collaboration by using Autodesk’s Construction Cloud’s BIM model sharing. This was further strengthened when three local team members received support from a UK colleague who relocated to Vancouver for an 8-week period, acting as a linchpin and coordinating with an additional four team members based in the UK.  The project was delivered on time and within budget, providing a complete community where people can live, work, learn, and play at the UBC Point Grey campus.

Completed in 2022, the project won the Architizer A+ Award: Popular Choice winner in the Residential, Affordable Housing, and the Best of Canada from the Shaw Contract Design Awards.

The project was designed by Okana partner, Ryder Architecture (Canada) Inc, in association with Hotson Architecture.

Tree in a city on a sunny day

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