is rectangle with a half-assed roof must have spoken to people.
Our intrepid reporter uncovers what makes Vancouver Specials so special.
WITH THE ABUNDANCE of new starchitect-designed skyscrapers jostling for space like so many damp B-Line passengers, it might be easy to forget our city’s true architectural legacy: the humble, stuccoen-crusted-Vancouver Special. Though the original designer’s name has been lost to history, the home is so simplistic that one assumes it was asecondgrader who sketched out a rectangle with ahalf-assed roof and called it aday.
But this rectangle with a half-assed roof must have spoken to people: from 1965 to 1985, over 10,000 homes were built with those same Vancouver Special plans. For comparison’s sake, during that same time period, the number of people who built the home I designed, “Modern-Meets-Rococo-Castle-with-Waterslide,” was zero. Was it because Inever “drew up blueprints” or because I wasn’t technically “born yet”? We may never know.
Some Vancouver Specials went up in just three weeks—faster than it took me to stop procrastinating and §nish this article. These twostorey bad boys maximized square footage on the lot (with room for plenty of extended family) and were built with cost-e«ective materials—excellent news for new immigrants, working-class folks and stucco fans everywhere. Plans were only $65 back then; today, accounting for ination, that would be the equivalent of two trips to the Whole Foods salad bar.
Because they grew so familiar with the design, city hall was soon able to fast-track Vancouver Special projects. Soon, South and East Van were sprinkled with cookiecutter dream homes— until, like most things in life, white people had to ruin all the fun. The west-side elite preferred trendy British architecture with big fancy gardens and saw this new housing as low-class. Neighbours complained to city hall, and in 1986 zoning laws were changed to put an end to the Spesh—because in Vancouver, NIMBYism never goes out of style.