Rising construction costs are challenging Canada’s urban housing agencies to deliver on their mandates to provide affordable multi-unit rental projects. The use of prefabricated wood systems for construction, however, presents an opportunity to reduce costs. It also can grow the green economy and support local employment and British Columbia’s forest industry.
The Vienna House Demonstration will test the potential of offsite multi-unit, mid-rise wood fabrication to help address rental housing demand. It will do this by showcasing the Vienna House, a 106-unit affordable housing building in Vancouver. This project will demonstrate strategies and approaches for efficient project delivery and the use of off-site wood fabrication. Innovative best practices identified during the demonstration will be shared throughout the construction industry and social housing sector.
3 Key Innovations
Use multi-unit, mid-rise wood construction to help address affordable rental demand and reduce building-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Utilize virtual design and construction systems, off-site fabrication and modular construction to reduce construction costs, waste and noise.
Adopt integrated project delivery and design processes to lower overall capital costs, improve efficiency and meet deadlines.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Delivering sustainable wood housing projects affordably, safely and reliably
Construction is Canada’s number one employer, employing over 1.4 million Canadians, more than the next three largest industries combined. However, the United Nations Environment Program has shown how changes in the global building and construction sector can slow global warming. There are significant opportunities to improve and modernize the sector’s processes and efficiency through innovation.
Led by BC Housing, the Vienna House Demonstration Initiative is designed to showcase techniques and collect data to accelerate modernization. It will demonstrate technologies, processes and practices to deliver sustainable wood housing projects affordably, safely and reliably. In doing so, it will address the National Housing Strategy’s priority areas of Sustainable Housing and Communities, and Balanced Supply of Housing.
Accommodating policy objectives and providing business benefits
The Vienna House demonstration is a collaborative exchange between the City of Vienna in Austria and the City of Vancouver. Vienna is a recognized leader in creating innovative high-density social housing using state-of-the-art mass timber systems. The Vienna House will act as the hothouse for research and innovation, generating knowledge and sharing it with the building industry.
In particular, the demonstration will show how new construction approaches can accommodate both policy objectives and provide business benefits to the construction industry. This includes being affordable and environmentally sustainable, while also being productive, safe and having predictable cost and schedules.
Improving housing affordability without compromising quality
The Vienna House will test prefabricated wood construction made from B.C. forestry products. Everything will be manufactured offsite, allowing for greater precision and speed with less waste and noise. This in turn improves construction quality and efficiency and lowers carbon emissions, increasing housing affordability and sustainability without compromising quality. The project’s goal is for Vienna House to meet the passive house standard.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) will be central to the Vienna House reaching its goals and generating and sharing knowledge. It will provide strategies for project delivery through tools like design models, quality control standards and operations manuals. These will be handed over to More than a Roof Housing Society, who will operate Vienna House after the demonstration. The materials will streamline the handover and help maximize building operations over time.
Showcasing digital design and construction approaches
Each phase of the Vienna House project will be accompanied by a case study. These will be supported by video clips, a live feed from the site webcam and an extensive social media presence. The BIM case study will showcase digital design and construction approaches to highlight BIM best practices for mass-timber affordable housing projects.
Webinars, videos, BIM-integrated photo documentation and site tours will share the project’s accomplishments, technologies, processes and lessons learned. These will be supported by data collected throughout the construction. This includes using sensors in the walls to track how well the building and design perform under real world conditions.
Project Team: BC Housing
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- City of Vancouver
- Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency
- City of Vienna
- More than a Roof Housing Society
Get More Information:
Email Innovation-Research@cmhc.ca or visit our website to learn more about the initiatives under the National Housing Strategy.
See how you can apply for a Demonstrations Initiative grant.