Anyone who has watched an episode of Weeds will remember the how the theme song laments houses made of ticky-tacky. The growth of suburbia its associated mass-developed housing has given way to a desire for spaces that are different from the Joneses’ and particularly have a little history of their own. Omer Arbel has restored a heritage building in Vancouver that ticks all the boxes.
46 Water Street Heritage Building is situated in Vancouver’s historic Gastown district. The residence is a loft that has been centered on a courtyard. The courtyard not only adds some much needed greenery, but it allows light to flow into the deep plan of the building. The industrial and roughly made nature of the original building is contrasted with modern elements that have been manufactured with precision. Rustic face brick walls set off a beautifully finished staircase and modern cabinetry. As one climbs the staircase a sculpture of a full moon leads the way. This is the first of many smile-inducing details that this house has. The open plan living room and kitchen are jotted with mobiles and Japanese koi kites that sway gently in front of the floor to ceiling glass doors that lead out onto the courtyard. Exposed wooden pillars and trusses brace the roof above and, instead of being a nuisance, divide the space neatly into manageable sections.
Arbel has done well to insert a dose of personality and light into a space that could easily have been a cavern. He’s created a space that not only looks good, but feels like a home.