River Walk is part of the wider master planned River District in Vancouver – a new community of 15,000 next to the Fraser River. The terrace house development successfully resolves the challenges involved building on steeply sloping site. It provides excellent oversight of the street, and a balance of private and communal space.
The River District development encompasses 53 ha of ex-industrial land on southeast Vancouver’s riverfront. The finished development will include 7,000 homes, shops, schools, parks, restaurants and a community centre.
There are five neighbourhoods in the development - this development is in an area called Hill Point. The master plan provides for large rectangular blocks running in a east-west direction. The Hill Point area is planned to accommodate apartment buildings along the northern and western edges of the area, but these were not completed when this case study was written.
River Walk comprises of 3-storey town houses arranged into blocks of between 4 and 5 units, organised in three rows running along the contours of a sloping site. The lowest townhouses front a connector road, where units have pedestrian access via garden gates to the street. The lower units have garage access from a mid-block lane, which has been designed as a public front for the units in the middle of the block. The design has utilised the slope to enable all units have southerly (sunny) views towards the Fraser River and the sun. 2
The project successfully resolves the challenges in designing terraced housing on a sloping, deep and awkwardly shaped site. Large areas of communal space and easy access to large neighbourhood parks provide a good balance to the limited amount of on-site private open area.