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eton accessory building


Motiv Architects Inc.




Vancouver, Canada

Shoes on Display

The Eton Accessory building sits amongst a gnarly row of alley structures of varying vintages. The rolling door is often open, presenting a bright interior and a hub of activity.Neighbours come by to see what the latest project is and to admire the wood characteristics. Accessory buildings and alleyways provide a unique opportunity for flexible solutions for creative maker space. This structure alternates between a fabrication studio and “storefront” for an industrial bag and belt fabrication company and a workshop to build furniture and tinker on a fully restored vintage vehicle. The design goals included a simple structure, flooded with daylight and connected visually to the garden and yard – framing a landscaped oasis between a century-old character house and the laneway. A Cross Laminated Timber structure offers both a durable, planar finish and the warmth of wood interiors. Skylights and windows, strategically cut, provide glimpses in and out and a beautifully changing quality of light throughout the day. The dramatic contrast of interior and exterior is created with the natural tones of the spruce and the onyx finish of the vertical cedar siding. The choice of wood for this project reflects a desire to use natural materials and the architect to take part in the construction. The flat panel CLT was prefabricated in pieces, erected on-site with GRK screws, allowing Tracey and Kelvin to participate in the panel assembly fully and then complete the build themselves. The structure is a kit of parts entirely made of 3 ply CLT with large cedar framed openings at both ends. Only 15’x22’ in stature, all efforts were made to maximize panel size and stiffness of the 3 ply format – orienting the CLT as spandrel panels and utilizing a modest mezzanine and the built-in gutters to stiffen the structure. All connections were screwed or bolted with basic hand tools. Cut into 14 components by a handheld power saw; the CLT was trucked to Vancouver and erected from a hiab truck crane in one and a half days – snapping together like a puzzle.

Arrow Out
Wooden Toy Clock

The Eton Accessory Building by MOTIV Architects is an example of New Wood Open Architecture because it incorporates active participation, prefab CLT construction and a resilient building envelope. The elegant prefabrication strategy allowed the inhabitants to participate in the final assembly process and interior fit-out. The Prefab CLT panels greatly simplified the on-site assembly process and allowed the inhabitants to play a more significant role. Finally, the resulting envelope is highly flexible and resilient to future change. The CLT structure directs all loads to the exterior of the building allowing for no interior load-bearing walls. Users can anticipate expanding the floor in either direction by adding new prefab components, allowing the structure to grow as the spatial demands of the inhabitant change over time.


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