R-CG Rowhouse Collaboration with RNDSQR

We've been working with RNDSQR to design a number of townhouse projects that take advantage of Calgary's R-CG district. In collaboration with Turbulentarch, we prepared renderings for most of these projects, and we are pleased to share them here.




This project in Richmond has two units that face the street and two that face the avenue. The dual-orientation of the building offers an intriguing new perspective to the typical rowhouse massing, breaking it up the volume of the building and giving interest to each of the street facades. Additionally, the building is designed to soften the distinction between the individual units so the composition of the building as whole is what stands out. 




This four-unit project in Altadore, like KL26,  has two units facing the street and two units facing the avenue. The material palette includes black vertical corrugated metal, white stucco and natural cedar in a chevron pattern. The broken-up massing and high-quality materials help make this project fit well within the surrounding neighbourhood.




Also in Altadore, this four unit project faces 16th Street SW. The vertical cedar screen is flush to the parapet but has a variegated lower edge that gives the facade an organic, playful feel.




This project is on an unusual site facing 5th Street SW, but rather than having a rear lane, it has a lane along the side of the building. Because this put the garages along one side, we configured the entries along a common walkway along the other. While the walkway is at grade, it isn't on the ground. The lower level of CB05 extends past the main entry walls and under the walkway, giving the residents a large flex space that could be used as a third bedroom or a lower entertaining space. This space is daylit by a long window well that extends almost the entire depth of the property. Privacy from busy 5th Street is achieved in part with brick screens that obscure views but allow light to filter both in and out of the unit.




In Richmond, a stone's throw away from the Marda Loop commercial district, this four-unit rowhouse building features glazed lofts, and distinct unit facades textured with stone, stucco and cedar. With raked windows and large sliding patio doors, the loft area becomes a large indoor/outdoor space.

Mount Pleasant R-CG Redesignation

We were at City Hall last week for a public hearing on a couple of redesignations. We were happy to have council's support in redesignating a parcel in Mount Pleasant to R-CG for an eight unit townhouse development. 

Some community members thought that this was the thin edge of the wedge to allowing rowhouses in Mount Pleasant, and that the community is going a good job of maintaining their population with current development. As well, Councillor Cabot noted that this would allow the density to double compared to the current land use.

However, Councillor Carra thought it was a great townhouse form, and that this is exactly the kind of lot that the R-CG district was designed to address. Councillor Woolley commented that this project would make living in Mount Pleasant more affordable.

Councillor Farrell expressed that 20th Avenue is the perfect candidate for row housing. The communities of Capitol Hill identified this in their recent ARP. She said that Mount Pleasant has seen significant development of large single family infills and that they also welcomed multi-family on 17th Avenue. What they don't have is product in between the multi-residential and the single family homes (sometimes called the "missing middle"). She said that this street is the perfect candidate for this. She mentioned that Council even discussed this street when they introduced the R-CG land use district. 

Councillor Carra doesn't agree with members of the community that Mount Pleasant should hold their population steady. He believes that inner city populations should be increased and sometimes significantly. Carra declared that "twentieth Avenue is the poster child for the R-CG land use". He said that the missing middle is a very important housing type to introduce to the inner city, and that even semi-detached houses are now out of the price range of normal families.

Councillor Chabot noted that there are a lot of single detached homes on 20th Avenue that haven't been converted to semi-detached. He's concerned that the City is trying to densify the city too quickly. He said that he appreciates where the applicant is going with this, but that he doesn't feel comfortable with doubling the current density that is allowed on the site or quadrupling the existing density. He said "It's going a little to much too quickly."

Woolley noted that Council approved the multi-residential infill guidelines and that this lot fits within those guidelines. He said that "It's a prime candidate for our infill guidelines" and it's a very good location. He said "I'm very supportive of this application."

Councillor Sutherland said that this was a perfect location. He noted that the density was reduced from what was originally proposed.

Councillor Farrell reiterated that this is appropriate development. She concluded that "this is a traditional land form that once developed will fit in very nicely with the community."

After discussion, Council gave three reading to the Bylaw amendments and approved the redesignation.

Unfortunately, on another item, a redesignation to allow a secondary suite in Wildwood will not be going ahead.

Vancouver Housing Tour 2015

A few months ago, Inertia went on a housing tour of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The area is in the middle of a housing boom, and we were able to see a wide range of product over the two day tour.


Microsuites are becoming popular in the area, but not where we expected to find them. Tien Sher's Balance project isn't in downtown Vancouver, but rather in Surrey. Many of the units were less than 400 square feet. Because it was hard for people to visualize how to use this tiny space, the smallest units were fitted out with murphy beds from Resource Furniture.

The elevation demonstrates that it is still possible to achieve something engaging while still using basic finishes.


One of our favourite projects from the tour were Mosaic Homes' Freemont Indigo and Freemont Green in Port Coquitlam. These are mid-rise and townhouse developments respectively that are on the Pitt River near the Lougheed Highway. We were impressed by the layouts, landscaping, finishes and attention to detail. They also reminded us of comprehensive developments we've seen in Southern California, both in terms of design and presentation. Like such southern projects, Freemont shares a common private club house that features a lounge, fitness studio, meeting room, community garden, dogwash, gymnasium and a pool.


Hayer's Exchange Townhouses in Willoughby are unexpectedly urban for being almost an hour out of Downtown Vancouver on the Trans-Canada Highway. The back-to-back layout presents the challenge of how to accommodate an attached garage, amenity space, enough bedrooms and bringing enough light into the units. The solution was to sling two storey units overtop of the garage, put a deck on the roof, limit the interior units to two bedrooms and locate the three bedroom units on the corners.

The Amazing Brentwood

We've joked about the absurdly named Amazing Brentwood project, but its the one project name that we remember without fail. Amazing is an urban development project on a massive scale. In the previously vast parking lot that surrounded a suburban mall, an increasing number of 50+ storey residential towers are being built. In combination with the nearby Skytrain station, Brentwood is quickly becoming a dense urban hub for North Burnaby.

At the time of our visit, the first tower was still just a hole in the ground. That said, at the time of this post, the first two towers are sold out and the third tower is 75% sold.


In West Vancouver, Grosvenor's Ambleside demonstrates what move-down living can look like when money isn't an object. This urban project is aimed at those who are simplifying their lives and who want a lock-and leave-alternative to their West Vancouver house but who don't want to leave their neighbourhood or their furniture.

This James Cheng designed building has units that range in size from about 1,000 SF to over 2,500 SF. Each unit also features private underground parking.

There wasn't much to see of the actual project yet, but their model and sales centre were spectacular.

And Many More

We toured eighteen projects in two days. Most of them were interesting, but there were certainly too many to fit into this post. After visitings a few new developents near UBC as well as the Shannon Wall Centre on Granville, we finished the second day up at the Residences at the Georgia Hotel. There we were treated to spectacular views of Downtown Vancouver and surroundings.

Clearly there is a lot of choice in the Vancouver housing market whether you want to live 50 storeys in the sky or in under 500 square feet. Issues of a housing bubble or foreign investment aside, we were able to bring back some great ideas that we continue to incorporate into our new designs.

R-CG Pre-App Meeting

This morning we had our first pre-application meeting for a potential R-CG parcel. We were very impressed by how open the planners at the City are about this redesignation. As well, the community was excited about it as well.

Because R-CG is not considered a multi-residential district in Calgary's Land Use Bylaw, there are fewer hurdles to jump in order to get an R-C2 parcel redesignated as R-CG. If there is an existing policy, such as an Area Redevelopment Plan, that indicates that a parcel should remain a Low Density use, the R-CG district still conforms. As well, because of its conventional format where entrances are on the street and are not internal to the parcel, neighbours and community associations are less concerned about R-CG developments causing conflicts with adjacent low density development.

Based on the positive feedback from the community association, neighbours and today's pre-application meeting, we're going to move forward with the land use redesignation. We'll keep our followers informed as this development progresses!