1800 sqft 3 Bedroom House, Vancouver

1800 sqft 3 Bedroom House, Vancouver (PDF)

  • Rhonda

    I used to live in a house with a big stair like that. It was horrible. Who would design such an ugly thing. That gets my vote!

  • Louis Pereira

    There are so many things wrong, including the siting of the house with zero response to orientation, the conflict-ridden layout and the very inefficient use of 1800 sq.ft…

    But I would also agree with the stairs being the main culprit resulting in this disasterous plan. As John succinctly points out, ‘it really screwed it up’…

  • Sarah

    My vote is for the bulbous family room. There are too many corners and the fireplace and tv placement would make this a very difficult room to furnish.

  • Grace

    The stairs are the biggest problem,epecially because they reinforce the duplication of sitting and eating areas. The living and dining rooms have no relationship to the rest of the house, particularly to the kitchen, which is in an awkward relationship to the dining room.

    If I wanted all the spaces to function, I would have the entire west side of the house constitute living and dining rooms. The rest of the northern space would be reconfigured as kitchen/breakfast and smaller family room. There would be an opening between the dining room (now in the former kitchen space) and the new kitchen. The fireplace would relocated to the newly expanded living room.

    Although it might seem that there is still duplication of space, it would be quite functional for a family with small children–a smaller family room/playroom/TV room within sight of the kitchen and a more formal adult space in the living room.

    The stairs would have to be reoriented to face the foyer and perhaps pushed back a bit.

  • Uno

    Although it may not be THE WORST problem, I think the island would be very frustrating to use. It is really small and the angle makes it even worse. I presume that it also has some kind of eating bar at the end for stools. This reduces its functionality even more and seems silly when the breakfast nook is right beside it.

  • Paul

    When will this formula be abandoned? It ignores context.

    From a macro perspective, even with 50%, there is still too much prominence placed on vehicular storage. There is likely at least a 20ft by 20ft driveway in front of the garage. In 100 years, will historians conclude that homeowners of the day placed more value on an asset(car) as opposed to how they lived and related to their surroundings? Lack of connection to the street and therefore the community. Lack of transition to the outdoors. Lack of regional context. From a micro plan perspective, lack of family needed spaces (i.e. storage, a true mud room) The primary entry for the homeowners would probably be through the garage/laundry area and this experience would be utilitarian/congested at best. Angles for the sake of angles…I could go on and on.

    This formula is/has been reproduced again and again, especially throughout North America. In many cases on parcel widths much narrower than this, where what remains is only the front door and garage. In some of those cases, the main living space is located above the garage, further reducing the connection of the inhabitants to the community. The street is relegated to nothing more than a glorified alley.

    My vote, it’s time to abandon this formula. Vehicular access from a rear lane would be one solution but not the only one.

  • Louis Pereira

    ^100% agree Paul and i suppose this could be said with almost all the WWWTH plans shown to date.

    To broaden your ‘macro perspective’ even wider, i would blame every ‘standard’ urban planning method employed since WWII, the auto industry and cheap energy. This property could have a fence separating the backyard from a major shopping centre, yet most often it would still require one to hop in the car just to get a cup of coffee.

    An insatiable quest to find the most efficient fuels to augment our driving habits aren’t going to make our built environment any better, in fact it will again ramp up the need for more and more of these building types

  • Jennifer

    I am going to bring things back to the small scale again and vote for that rotated stair as the worst part of this house. I am sorry to say it, but it makes the house ridiculous.

  • Sean

    I agree with Grace about the duplicate living and eating areas. The unfortunate thing is that despite the multiple copies none of these rooms look like they would work very well or be very nice to be in. Just a lot of disfunctional space.

  • Hector Guerra

    I am sorry for my writing in English, i am a Mexican architect, and i agree with everything that you said about the central stairs, they do add a lot of 45 degree angles in the house and they always create wasted space. Other things that are not very functional in the floor plan is the direct views that you have to different ares in the house, for example the direct view to the laundry room from the living area and the direct view to the guest bath (PWR) from the family area. This are spaces that i recommend been more private either for the guest (pwr) or the owner privacy (laundry). Another small change i recommend is just changing the main door oppening to the other side, why? because these will make it feel more spacious one’s you come in the house instead of looking at the coats closet door. Most of the times when you have a living a dining area in a home, that’s the first thing you want to show your guest.

    thank you.

    Hector Guerra

  • Frank

    What is wrong with this house? The designer, the builder, and anyone who would spend their money on an inward focused house with living spaces devoid of sun light (essential in Vancouver), contact with the outside, and wasted space resulting from the angular placement of the stairwell.

    What’s really wrong with this house is the fact that there have been so many of them in built in North America. We generally refer to these as “builder burgers” and there are literally millions of them. They crank them out like burgers. Take the same plan, slap it on a lot without care for how it interacts with the natural environment, wrap it up with gingerbread molding and sell them as fast as you can.

    When will people learn that this is no way to build a home, to raise children, or to live the major portion of your life?

    Any way that’s what I think is wrong with this house.

  • John Brown

    An interesting set of comments on today’s exercise. It is hard to imagine that anything could be much worse than that stair. It does such violence to the rest of the house. One can only imagine how convoluted it would make the circulation on the upper level. However, I am going to give that terrible stair the number three position because it is so obvious.

    For number two I go to Hector’s criticism of the unfortunate sight lines into the guest bath and laundry room from the main living spaces. They are, of course, unintentional consequences of the rotated stair. However,Hector’s comment is a subtle but very important observation that speaks to an even deeper level of carelessness in the design. Last week we talked about the lack of humanity in the design of the small duplex in Louisiana. This house is three times bigger and probably ten times more expensive but I believe it is just as deflating for the people who live there.

    My vote for the number one thing wrong with this house goes to Frank, Paul and Louis’ argument that the problem lies with the system that planned, designed, and built a house like this (and millions more just like it).

    I will, however, stop short of blaming the people who buy these houses. In my experience, I have never met anyone who has intentionally gone out and spent their hard earned money on a dud house. Like all of us they want, and deserve, a good home in which to live their lives. Instead, however, too many people have been sold a bill of goods by a lazy industry that continues to capitalize on a general lack of understanding about what constitutes good residential design.

    Hopefully, discussions like the ones we are having around these exercises will help change this situation and empower all of us to start demanding more from the housing industry.

  • Scott

    John’s comment about the front rooms being there primarily for marketing purposes gets my vote. These typically ill proportioned rooms with little or no relation to the remainder of the home are a dominent trate in countless “builder burgers” whether or not they feature a cockeyed stair.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I realize that I am more exception than the rule, but I live an an area that gets 200+ inches of snow a year. I don’t view a short drive as a problem. Putting an alley in the back of the lot and siting a garage there would not be much of a solution because it would make snow removal from a traditionally narrow alley very difficult.
    Siting the garage at the back without an alley means you have a long narrow drive. You will double, potentially triple the amount of paving needed. How is that a lighter footprint?

  • John Brown

    You make a good point. I agree that simply moving the garage from a front drive to an alley access is not going to make any difference from a broad environmental point of view because it is the use of the car that is the biggest problem more than how it is stored.

    The argument for dissociating the garage from the house is more about increasing access to views, daylight and natural ventilation. In most communities, houses are placed very close together and can only have a limited area of windows opening onto their side yards. This makes the front and rear facades of the home extremely important for views, daylight and ventilation. An attached garage can reduce this available wall area by anywhere from 40% – 90%. If not designed properly, this can have a very negative impact on the layout of the house – leading to inwardly focused dark spaces.

  • James Scott

    I know I’m chiming in on this conversation late in the week but I’ll throw in a few ideas anyway.

    My specific concern is that the stairs are open sided, a feature that has taken hold the last generation or so in new home construction. This paired with clerestory design of front rooms and entrances that have also been very popular as of late create a noise vortex that runs from one corner of the house right into the sleeping spaces on the upper floor. So many examples of homes where you can hear the television or washing machine in the basement all the way to the top floor as if you were standing in the same room. Almost like being in a cavern, not very comfortable. I see that this may not be duplicated to the full extant here but it does stand out to me.

    Regarding the residential construction market, we’re as much to blame as the builders. We have been brain-washed into the following:

    A) rent while young and/or in college
    B) buy a starter home
    C) have a kid or two and move up to something a little bigger
    D) the market is on the move, use the equity to buy something bigger
    E) now we’re empty nesters, scale down to something smaller and use the extra cash for retirement, travel, etc.

    My point here is that there is a pattern and we’ve been sold a bill of goods so the industry (builders, realtors, banks, etc.) can maximize revenues. Can you blame them? The system has convinced us to invest in real estate, not invest in a home and community for our family.

    There needs to be a seminar or lecture series, “How to Buy a Home”. This discussion must be led by someone who has no conflict of interest. There may be an opportunity for you here John! A Teaching Guide to facilitate seminars on this topic. I’m sure there are architects and designers throughout the world that would love to sneak into the community and open the minds of prospective home owners.

  • John Brown

    You make two very interesting and very diverse comments.

    You are absolutely correct about the sound problem in some of these houses. I hope you would agree, however, that the problem exists more with the careless and/or thoughtless way in which the two storey space and open stair are implemented rather than with the design ideas themselves. There are lots of examples of well designed homes in which the architect has seamlessly integrated an open stair and double volume space without any of the problems you so correctly identify.

    Your second observation about the “housing system” is spot on. This “fast house” industry started just after world war II in Southern California, in almost the same place as the fast food industry, and it has expanded globally. In fact as we have seen recently, the economies of some communities were entirely fueled by home building. When demand fell in the credit crisis (which was started by the mortgage problem created by this same fast housing industry)these communities fell apart.

    For a good story on this go to the following link and click on Florida foreclosures.


    One of the goals of Slow Home is to give people some basic tools to start making better choices with regards to their home. Your idea of a seminar that expands into this broader realm of discussion is a good one. Something for us to think about for our site.

  • James Scott

    You are right John, poor design can make great ideas terrible ideas.

    And thank you to you and all of your posters that provide such positive and enlightening ideas. I’m so excited that I found this community…a real breath of fresh air.