GBL Architects recently completed the multifamily residential development SOMA on Cambie located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The 28,000 sq ft development aligns with the City of Vancouver’s overarching plan for higher density land use developments, contributing to a more sustainable and livable neighborhood along Cambie Street, one of the city’s main transit corridors.
The six-storey multifamily development includes thirty-two apartment units; nineteen have been designed for families with children. The residential units can be accessed through the two underground parking levels or at grade through the main pedestrian entrance located along Cambie Street.
While urban design guidelines typically prescribe multiple step backs on all sides, the size and shape of the site allow the building’s mass to differ from its neighbours. SOMA celebrates its stereotomic nature at the southeast corner, above the public entrance, where a dramatic six-storey brick elevation is expressed without a horizontal break. The other elevations follow the traditional step-backs above the third and fourth floor to reduce the perceived height of the building.
The extensive use of masonry cladding reinforces the monolithic expression of the building. The subtle sheen of the dark brick increases tone variations throughout the day, with its rough texture contrasting with the glazing. Box-like frames protrude outwards from the window openings along the south and west elevations offer protection from the sun, reducing excessive heat gain during summer.
Careful design considerations were given in the creation of a comfortable interior environment for the residents. The low window to wall ratio with the use of continuous insulation reduces heat loss, creating significant energy savings.