Graduate Liberal Studies, History, Community
How Vancouver Specials make Vancouver special
by Christopher Cheung
You know what this house looks like. Everybody does.
It’s two storeys, rectangular and boxy. The classic’s got white stucco, red brick and a balcony with metal railing.
It’s the Vancouver Special, the only house designed in our city and one with a troubled past.
Since specials showed up in the mid-1960s, they’ve taken hate for their small gardens and being too big and not British enough. One urban planner called it an “architectural harlot.”
But an SFU student who recently researched Vancouver Specials for her MA history thesis uncovered their unsung role in the city. The form made Vancouver denser, more affordable and more cosmopolitan – all goals of city hall at the time.
This irony left Jennifer Chutter with one question: “Why do people hate this house so much?”