Mindful Updates Retain Heritage in Vancouver Home Modernization

Stitched into a 1910 Edwardian-era structure in the historic Shaughnessy neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is a series of contemporary interventions by Measured Architecture and Paul Sangha Creative landscaping. The truly laudable solutions are thoughtfully composed to consider context while adding only meritorious elements to an architectural patchwork as its quilt continues to unfurl, reflecting this current contribution to a storied historical fabric. “Although my aesthetic is modern,” admits one of the homeowners, “I have a deep appreciation for history and loved knowing that the building, property, and neighborhood had lots to tell already.”

Bright living room with wooden floors; features a black console table, pink sculptural art, and an open wooden door leading to a room with a piano and black sofa.

The Shaughnessy House reflects a curatorial, multi-phase approach to contemporizing the home, which creates a new architectural throughline tethering space and time. A series of forward-looking enhancements are fused with the 4,500-square-foot, traditional foursquare plan – one where rooms are parsed into quadrants, clearly delineated, moving from communal to private programming as the floors ascend – while rectifying updates from an 80s renovation attempt. The structure is now anchored by a grand, four-story blackened-metal central stair showcasing warm wood paneling, an adjacent glass atrium that acts like a light well, and multi-level privacy curtain system designed in collaboration with local artisan Cloth Studio. Guests are granted access to a nearly uninterrupted view through the main volume as its design trades an unmitigated open plan for intentional site lines.

Modern dining room featuring a wooden table with colorful chairs, pendant lights, and a view of greenery through a large window.

Modern kitchen interior featuring a marble bar counter, wooden cabinets, stylish pendant lights, and two bar stools near a window with sheer curtains.

Modern kitchen with marble island adjacent to a living area with a gray sofa, and a staircase with wooden and white vertical paneling.

Modern kitchen interior with white cabinetry, wooden island, and stainless steel appliances. Bright space with natural light.

Modern kitchen with a marble island, stainless steel appliances, and wooden floors.

A small, modern bathroom designed with white textured walls, a wall-mounted sink, toilet, and a black ceiling. A single mirror and overhead light fixture are visible.

Modern spacious living room with large gray sectional sofa, stairs leading up behind a partial wall, and floor-to-ceiling windows showing outdoor greenery.

Modern staircase featuring warm wood panels and black metal railings in a bright room, complemented by sleek, white decorative elements under the stairs.

Modern home interior featuring a hallway with wooden floors and walls, a staircase with vertical black bars, and a view into a well-lit, open room with large windows.

Modern living room with black and yellow chairs, a unique white chandelier, and a balcony view, featuring sleek, and dark wood stair railings.

Modern bathroom interior featuring a double sink vanity, geometric tile walls, and a shower with a curtain. Bright lighting and minimal decor.

Minimalist bedroom featuring a bed covered in a green and brown blanket, a small desk with books, and a large window showing trees.

The exterior is also indicative of great discretion having been practiced with structural intervention. While the front facade maintains the integrity of its historical milieu, the rear delights in reinterpreting it. The central volume is expressed by uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling windows that crown with an enclosed glass cupola on the top floor reminiscent of the widow’s walks popular in the home’s aesthetic heyday. This vertical stacking also creates lines of continuation that meet those generated by the infinity pool as the yard reaches the domicile. In playful contrast to the residence – rather than a bastardization of historical elements – is a modern, steel-clad cubic structure situated a short distance from the main dwelling and perpendicular to the infinity pool. The upper portion is clad in mirrored surfaces, which help camouflage the unit while visually enhancing the yard’s depth. Below is a pool house in the style of a walk-out basement.

Modern attic bedroom with exposed white beams, a wooden wall panel, large bed, and black curtains dividing the space.

Modern bathroom viewed through dark curtains, featuring white marble walls, a visible bathtub, and wooden cabinet.

Bright attic space with white walls and exposed beams, wooden partitions, a modern chair, and decorative wall art.

A modern attic bedroom featuring an angular wooden ceiling, a bed with a dark blue comforter, a small desk area, and a large window.

Modern bathroom with double sinks, large mirror, white tile walls, and frosted glass doors.

Modern bedroom design with a wooden panel headboard, white exposed beam ceiling, and a round window. Includes a bed with pillows, a lamp on a side table, and a decorative pou

View from the bottom of a modern staircase with dark, measured steps, wooden paneling, and metal railings, looking upwards to a bright skylight.

Modern wine cellar featuring wooden racks lining the walls, a central wooden bench, and an exposed concrete ceiling, illuminated by recessed lighting.

The Shaughnessy House landscape utilizes indigenous plants in a composition distilled through picturesque visions of lakes and oceans of the Pacific Northwest. “We aimed to create a series of diverse zones that harmoniously coexist under a unified design concept,” says Paul Sangha, principal landscape architect and founder of Paul Sangha Creative. Integrating all levels of the property, these zones include formal plantings informed by the neighborhood’s heritage design guidelines, a designated active leisure with pavilion and sports court, a dining terrace, the trellised walkway connecting the veranda to the new garage, a poolside lounge space, and a walkway between a play structure and the pool house. Natural boulders were worked into boundaries of elements like the infinity-edge pool to soften harsh lines and lean into natural, meandering paths.

Aerial view of a modern backyard featuring a rectangular swimming pool, patio with a fire pit, outdoor furniture, and a lush garden bordered by tall hedges.

A modern backyard featuring a long, rectangular swimming pool surrounded by lush greenery and trees, with a stylish lounge chair and a table displaying plants and a hat.

Luxury backyard with a swimming pool, modern patio furniture, and lush greenery under a clear sky.

Modern garden featuring lush greenery, a black sofa with cushions, a lounge chair, and large rocks, surrounded by a black fence.

Lush garden with a small pool and jacuzzi, surrounded by tropical plants, stone features, and modern outdoor furniture near a larger swimming pool.

A building facade with a reflective glass facade, featuring a solitary tree in front and its reflection in a still, clear swimming pool.

Noteworthy still are the myriad green initiatives the Shaughnessy House boasts. The central textile curtain not only provides privacy, but also acoustic dampening and heat abatement. Black solar panels integrated into the top of the poolhouse structure heat the water feature year round. Indigenous plantings embrace rewilding and a stormwater tank system works with the environment to manage runoff. The interior refurbishments include a reinsulated envelope and walls, high-efficiency windows, and the recoating of radiators before reinstalling them in efficient locations connected to a new, state-of-the-art boiler. Among other accolades, this house holds the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) Special Jury Award for Heritage Retention and Modernization. “The project started with a 1910 grand house originally built for an English family,” say Clinton Cuddington and Piers Cunnington, principals at Measured Architecture. “And now, introduces contemporary interventions to draw the building into the present.”

Modern two-story house featuring large glass windows, surrounded by lush greenery and a small outdoor seating area.

Lush green plants bordering a serene swimming pool with reflections in the water under sunlight.

A serene garden featuring lush greenery and white flowers, with a modern white bench on a paved walkway, enclosed by a tall hedge and a metal gate.

A well-maintained garden with large hostas and a variety of lush plants, stone paths, and a wooden house partially visible in the background.

A modern outdoor home basketball court at night, featuring a hoop, paved area, and illuminated garage and trees.

Aerial view of a large three-story house at dusk, featuring illuminated windows, and a swimming pool.

To view the designers respective portfolios visit measured.ca and paulsangha.com.

Photography by Ema Peter Photography.

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