Triple the challenge (and reward) in building this Vanier triplex

November 13, 2017

A Vanier triplex we finished earlier this year presented an unusual challenge that proved very satisfying to overcome. Building a triplex was not the issue: while we’re known more for our single-family renovations, additions and custom homes, we have tackled projects of this size before. But the location and the disconnect between the owner’s vision and the city’s proved to be an exercise in perseverance and required some interesting solutions.

The lot is an awkward pie-shaped corner that had been home to overgrown shrubbery and a detached garage serving another triplex next door. Our client, who grew up in Vanier, lived for a time in that next-door triplex and was keen to see how the empty lot beside it could be used more efficiently. She came to us to see what we could do with it.

The site’s shape presented a challenging space to place even a single-family home, never mind a triplex. And while the city supports unique infill solutions, the necessarily rigid zoning often does not agree. Added to that was the city’s desire for a building with a more modern-look, which went against what the owner sought for her community, creating a further challenge.

For our client, maintaining the distinct architectural character found in Vanier was key and one of our in-house designers Chris Mulholland drew on those features for this building’s design. Things like the brick and glass block, the central stair tower and the symmetrical form, along with some parapet details echoing the nearby Vanier Pentecostal Church, all ground the new building very much into the neighbourhood’s history and character.

But while the exterior is traditional, inside is another matter. To attract the young professional tenants our client desired, the interiors needed to have a modern, condo-loft feel, with open layouts and upscale features and finishes. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a three-piece sliding wall door between the living room and adjacent den make for bright and flexible living spaces.

The units proved to be attractive and were quickly rented.

And for Chris, it was an interesting project to work on. “For the narrowness of the site and the oddness of the site, to be able to get a functional investment property in that area is pretty successful. And I like to think that we’re doing something good for Vanier … there’s a lot of potential in Vanier.”