2016 Banff Affordable Housing Proposal

Posted on
June 26, 2019

This project was designed with the team of Avi Urban for the Town of Banff affordable housing competition.

Site context and location

The main objective of the project was to provide accommodation for people who otherwise would not be able to afford living in Banff. The programmatic requirements were very strictly focused on construction affordability, high yield of units and thoughtful use of unit layout and common area. All this packaged in a sound and efficient building envelope that would promote mountain “character” architecture and be reasonably priced for its purpose.

Preliminary sketch front elevation

Located in the town of Banff on Coyote Lane, the proposed site was difficult as the land is on a narrow and steeply sloped parcel. To be successful, the design had to respect the landscape and existing conditions of the site.

Preliminary sketch side elevation

The team designed a building which is broken down into smaller elements to promote a sense of smaller building massing. The two “wings” of the development are connected by a “knuckle” link element inspired by the forms of coal mines once common in the Bow Valley. The massive roof-lines are further broken down by irregularly shaped gables, drawing inspiration from the surrounding mountain peaks. The large balcony cross-bracings were further inspired by the timber construction often seen in the past in the Bow River Valley area, and most recently featured on the Banff Town Hall.

Original colour scheme
Suggested colour scheme

The design included equitable unit design, with access to balconies and breath-taking views for every unit in the building. Durable and inexpensive materials (cementitious Hardi board plank and siding, exposed timber and metal roofs and walls) complement the cost-conscious approach. The design and the overall massing offers a building that feels like it’s part of Banff.

Innovative and creative use of Banff Design Bylaws allowed for creation of a structure that is simultaneously contemporary, modern and traditional in its overall approach, allowing enhancement of the character of the new construction in the town.

Benefits to the project included:

- Contemporary "mountain character" architecture contextual to the project location,
- Parkade placement and grades around the building driven by the existing slopes to avoid deep excavation and extensive use of retaining walls,
- Parkade access located at the “on grade” side of the building, eliminating the need for ramps,
- Floor-slab split over the middle of the site to reflect the sloping character of the site,
- On-grade units with direct at-grade access,
- Variety of units and efficient use of space (to promote the affordable character of the development),
- Efficient use of timber articulation,
- Human scale of the architecture,
- Use of materials and colours which are durable, well-represented and recognized in the town history,
- Strong roof line broken by the "coal mine" link element in the middle of the building, reinforcing the history and architectural character of the Valley,
- Roof overhangs and balconies providing sufficient articulation and protection from the elements, and
- Native landscape elements suggesting a strong connection to the surrounding lands.

To learn more about our design approach, or for questions about the Banff project, please contact us directly at info@sztukarchitecture.com

Sketches and drawings: SZTUK Architecture, Homes by Avi - Avi Urban

View PDF