A stacked four-unit townhouse project in Sidney is eye-catching evidence that you can get a lot from a little.
BY DAVID LENNAM | PHOTOS BY JAMES JONES
It would be a stretch, a mighty stretch, to suggest Sidney is taking on a Tokyo vibe. But there’s evidence that Japanese architectural practices are creeping their way into the little seaside town.
Beacon Avenue is hardly the Ginza. The corner of Bevan and Third isn’t Shibuya Crossing, but Leeward, a three-year-old infill development by Aryze, has introduced a stacked townhouse model popular in the Japanese metropolis where density isn’t seen as a detriment.
Tall and standing out from the neighbouring buildings with its modern facade and Japanese flourishes, like vertical wood-slat window screens for privacy, the four-unit project places two 1,550-square-foot townhouses on top of a pair of 685-square-foot ground-floor live/work lofts.
The concept came to Ryan Goodman, principal and GM of Victoria-based Aryze, during repeated Tokyo visits. While Leeward doesn’t feature tatami mats, shoji, the latticework and paper sliding doors, or those impossibly futuristic toilets, it has a subtle nod to urban chic.
“I wouldn’t say the esthetic is a Japanese esthetic, but the approach was very much inspired by Japan,” says Goodman, explaining how the design impetus came from observing ingenious infill construction.
Leeward sits on an impossibly small 1,750-square-foot lot steps from downtown Sidney. Considering that an average single-family home lot size is about 6,500 square feet, the footprint made for some creative design challenges, notes Goodman.
“The lot is so small, like a little wee postage stamp, and it took a lot of creativity to try and figure out what to do there.”
The result offers a surprising amount of room … and rooms. The top floor townhouses are two bed, three bath on three floors of living, crowned by expansive 650-square-foot rooftop decks with sunrise-to-sunset ocean and mountain views. The Japanese might offer the phrase sukoshi kara takusan eru, meaning to get a lot from a little.
“We were definitely progressive for Sidney. We were way ahead of the curve there. We did not do the right project for Sidney,” laughs Goodman. “We did the right project for downtown Montreal.”
But it’s the right project for the new owners.
“It’s very different, very quirky, not generic and boring like your usual condo,” says Christine Shantz, who moved in this past spring.
And Leeward is the first on the Saanich Peninsula to offer no parking. Instead, Aryze gives the owners a lifetime Modo car-share membership with a vehicle parked across the street.
“(Leeward) promotes diversity and an ability to live in a downtown promoting mixed use of land,” says Shantz. “I have a car now, but eventually I might not even have a car because I don’t need one. I walk everywhere here. Then, if I needed a car, I could use the car share.”
Her first impressions were of the light pouring in, the spaciousness of the open-plan main floor, the nine-foot ceilings and, of course, the rooftop deck.
“I fell in love with the rooftop,” says Christine’s new neighbour, Star Weiss. She and her husband, Russ Fuoco, took possession last year. “It’s just stupendous.”
And utterly private, which is why they’ve installed a hot tub and hosted numerous outdoor dinner parties.
Another unique feature is a private elevator for each townhouse, essential given the 66 stairs from street to rooftop deck.
“We wouldn’t have even walked in the door if there wasn’t an elevator at this point in life,” says Weiss.
The stacked layout buys lots of space. Each townhouse has a private entrance into a small foyer with closet and elevator. The second floor is open living/dining/kitchen plus bath and a small balcony (where Weiss and Fuoco have their barbecue).
Next level up is two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a substantial balcony off the main bedroom and another small balcony off the second. Finally, there’s the magnificent deck, which is a very high four storeys up due to the
17-foot ceilings in the two live/work lofts at ground level.
Located a few steps from the ocean, east and south, makes Leeward ideal for a no-car life and scores high on the walkability index.
Says Goodman, “It’s a cool little project I’m really proud of and happy with, but definitely progressive for Sidney. To put it here was definitely a bit risky for us … but it has worked.”
Interior design: Aryze
Architect: Low Hammond Rowe Architects
Engineer: RJC Engineers
Landscaping: Biophilia Collective
Custom millwork: Matt Davis, Coast Cabinets
Lighting: Slater Electric
Flooring: Island Floor Centre
Windows: Ply Gem
Plumbing fixtures: Grohe fixtures, True Home Plumbing and Gas
Appliances: Coast Appliances
Countertops: Exotic Stone
Elevators: Home Elevators of BC