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‘Delivering elegant architectural design is always possible regardless of budget’

‘Delivering elegant architectural design is always possible regardless of budget’


Despite only having a limited budget to work with, Canadian practice Michael Green Architecture (MGA) has designed a “thoughtful and elegant” home for The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.

The Dock Building, located on Jericho Beach in Vancouver, serves a large marina of sailboats. The facility provides bathrooms and showers, offices for the Harbour Master, instruction space for children, and a variety of workshops to maintain boats, sails, and gear. The project’s practical working needs, very modest budget, and prominent siting required a simple solution that honoured the cannery and industrial heritage of waterfront buildings that were once found on the site a half-century before.

Royal Vancouver Yacht Club at night

“Delivering thoughtful, elegant architectural design is always possible regardless of budget,” says Michael Green, CEO and president of MGA. “This is what we set out to do when designing the Dock Building for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.”

Royal Vancouver Yacht Club during the day

Underpinning the design are two intersecting wedge volumes that mirror each other to create a ‘lantern to the sea and a lantern to the land’. Facing land is a glulam and translucent polycarbonate wall that brings light into the workshop spaces and glows along the beach at night.

Alternative view of the yacht club

Facing the sea and the marina itself are a series of garage doors opening to the shop bays as well as glazed offices for the management of the docks. A wood screen above the offices hides the mechanical systems in the high volume of the wedge that faces the water.

The doors open at the new yacht club in Vancouver

Located on the water’s edge, almost half of the project budget went to the foundation and piles, leaving the design team with the challenge of meeting the project’s functional needs while delivering something meaningful to the community.

The locker room inside the yacht building

Standing seam panels are used for the exterior in the spirit of the forms and colour of the sails and boats, while the structure is a mix of glulam posts and beams with light timber infill decking and walls. The interior is predominantly plywood, providing a tough, easily replaceable interior finish.

Plywood interior

“The Dock Building exemplifies what a creative team, an ambitious client, and a big vision can produce,” adds Green.

Photography by Ema Peter


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