Three phases of additions and renovations to the Arts Umbrella building in Vancouver’s Granville Island include a new 18,000-square-foot space constructed between existing buildings, which provides a new front entry and arts studio on the ground floor, a second floor arts studio, and a dance studio above that. Over 40,000 children a year now participate in the nonprofit society’s various arts programs.
Once an industrial peninsula, Granville Island was redeveloped in the early 1980s as a public waterfront destination and its many sheds were preserved and restored through a Federal Government initiative. A transformation rather than a replica, the addition’s design is a critical comment on the themed nature of Granville Island’s industrial image. Part of the addition’s form was inspired by an adjacent one-storey stucco shed. The resulting new front façade represents a fragmented oversized face. A large, leaded-glass window “eye” on the second floor looks down onto the street underneath the protective arch of a corrugated metal “cosmic eyebrow” roof. With windows at a child’s eye level, the new studio spaces evoke the non-scalar imagination of a child.
For Arts Umbrella’s next addition, the original stucco shed was demolished and replaced with a second transformation, this one more rectilinear than the first. The playful harmony and contrast between the first organic design and the second rectilinear addition represents the dialogue between the rational and subconscious impetuses behind the act of creation.
Status: Completed in 1998