Pearl Block Wins Design Excellence Award

We are thrilled to share that last night, Pearl Block was named the winner of the Design Excellence Award in the Multi Residential, Mixed Use category at the 2021 AFBC Architectural Awards of Excellence.

Nov 04, 20212 min read
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Celebrating the best of British Columbia’s world-class architecture, The Architectural Awards of Excellence are presented by The Architecture Foundation of British Columbia (AFBC). AFBC’s mission is to strengthen our community’s connection to the built environment while promoting and broadening the voice of architecture and design in BC and internationally.

Awarded to projects that enhance the built environment, the experience of space and place and reflect high standards of design quality, vision and skill, this recognition is the highest honour in British Columbia for architectural design.

Pearl Block was named the winner of

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Design Excellence Award

Multi Residential and Mixed Use Category

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The Story Behind Pearl Block

Aryze’s founders, with backgrounds in construction, urban planning and technology, realized that Victoria offered very little mid-market housing for those who admire modern architecture, and particularly little high-quality housing for those who do not have the means to commission a custom home.

This led the group to purchase a triangular-shaped, leftover lot in the leafy Oaklands neighbourhood and enlist Vancouver-based D’Arcy Jones Architects to design a project that would meet these requirements. The resulting project is Pearl Block, a building that introduces soft density to a mature neighbourhood on a site that had been left vacant for 65 years, a nearly-missed opportunity to add family-oriented homes to a city facing a housing crisis.

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The Architecture Angle

Pearl Block is a handsome modernist building that creates six, three-bedroom townhouse units, targeting young families. The triangular shape of the site informed the building’s “stepped” form, as did the need to provide every resident with a generous outlook onto the street. The ground floor footprint is smaller than the two floors above it, to allow for easier vehicle maneuvering, while creating a covered courtyard space at the entry of each unit.

The architects looked for the project to serve as a case study to investigate how they could blend characteristics of newness and tradition to create an architecture that fits its context with quiet confidence.

Its deeply textured stucco side walls emulate the style of Victoria’s finest turn-of-the-century houses. These also function like horse blinders, editing the views in and out so that the residents experience privacy and unobstructed views despite the proximity to their neighbours. The recessed ground floor is finished with a dark fiber cement panel, to minimize the building’s massing.

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The Urbanism Angle

Within its larger urban context, Pearl Block embodies a new community-minded development approach that was encouraged by the project’s neighbours, and the local Advisory Design Panel. Aryze has since undertaken other projects that carry these ideas forward, becoming pioneers at the forefront of a new generation of social-and-design-conscious developers.

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The Project Team

Aryze is a design-driven development team bringing creative infill housing and mixed-use projects to Victoria’s established neighbourhoods. That includes some pretty neat townhome developments.