It takes guts to make change happen, and some cities have them, others don't. In Vancouver, they changed the regulations to permit housing in back lanes, calling it EcoDensity; it is a carefully crafted bit of legislation that protects views and privacy but gets rid of the NIMBY factor that has paralyzed this kind of thing elsewhere. (Vancouver Approves Laneway Housing)
Now it is coming to fruition, with the first laneway houses designed under the bylaw getting built. First up in Bryn Davidson's Lanefab house, 710 square feet of green modern design in at the back of a house on Vancouver's east side.
The architect explains to the Globe and Mail:
"It was in the midst of the recession, we were suddenly without work, and at the same time, the City of Vancouver was talking about fast-tracking this lane house policy as part of their EcoDensity strategy," he says. "So, just over a year ago, we started working to create Lanefab and we worked on designs that would be ready for when they did pass the bylaw."
And they are busy now. "There are quite a few potential projects coming out of the woodwork after this weekend," says Mr. Davidson, who has given many tours and talks this past year about his designs. The Lanefab designs are quite green, with serious insulation, rainwater harvesting (no shortage of that in Vancouver) and local, renewable and recyclable materials. More at Lanefab
In fact, there are 66,000 lots in Vancouver suitable for laneway houses, and more than 60 applications to the city so far.
Smallworks has its own millwork shop, so they can turn out the entire package. They write in their sustainability page about one of the great benefits of laneway housing:
Size itself makes a huge impact on your home's energy use and sustainability. Smaller homes conserve significant resources in their construction, maintenance and operation, and laneway houses make use of existing municipal infrastructure
The West House, shown above,
was built with local B.C. materials, including a cedar exterior, and outfitted with sustainable fixtures and appliances that meet Energy Star ratings. The fixtures and appliances in the home are so green that they require no more than 1.5 kWh of energy per person per day, under normal living circumstances. The average amount of energy used daily in a standard-sized home is over three kWh.
TreeHugger will continue to follow this story as new laneway houses get designed and built; If you know of any others, please send them to our Design and Architecture tips line.