MIZA Architects | GrowUp


Date: 2009
Location:  Vancouver, BC
20/20 PREFAB competition entry for IDS West

As cities grow up and outwards, the loss of green space and lack of access to nature will continue to prevail. GROW UP’s incentive for addressing this issue is to create prefabricated units that encourage eco-responsibility with the requirement of one tree per unit. The addition of a tree or trees to an urban building typology not only enhances the livelihoods of residents, but also provides opportunities for food production, animal habitat, beautification of the street, cleansing the air, providing shade and minimizing the growing problems of the heat island effect.

By utilizing the tree as the fundamental requirement of this design, a significant portion of the 400 sq.ft. footprint was given for its support and to take advantage of the experiential opportunities of the tree. This required the unit to be organized in a vertical manner. The main living functions are carried out on the ground floor where the connection from interior to exterior is continuous.

The second and third floors are pulled back from the facade so a full view of the tree is available from all levels. The second floor is left open to meet the changing needs of a young couple from a home office to a baby’s room, while the third floor is designated as the most private of spaces. The triple height wall space in the living room is given over to an interior growing wall intended for the production of food all year-round.

GROW UP is at its core, a sustainable solution to prefab design. It utilizes ‘Structural Solid Wood Panels’, which are multiple layers of solid wood cross laminated together producing a strong, predictable, fire resistant, insulative material that acts as both wall and floor. It does not require vapour barrier so interior treatment may be left bare. The minimal use of material, ease of fabrication and panelized system make it ideal for sustainably prefabricating the GROW UP unit.

The structure of the unit is built on two bearing walls of Structural Solid Wood Panels on which the floors and roof are laid. The unit is enclosed with a standard unitized glass system. In addition to the structural wood panels, GROW UP houses its tree in a prefabricated deck unit that connects to the floor structure and thru tension cables, connects back to the bearing walls. This system allows for shipping and easy deployment of GROW UP anywhere in the world via shipping containers. The panels would be assembled on-site according to the specifications and a local tree planted at each location.

The unit is also designed so that it may be accumulated in a dense urban setting to achieve extremely high density. The fire resistance of the wood structural panels makes it possible for a mid-rise construction and the design can be engineered in steel to produce a prefabricated skyscraper.