Block x Block Edition 1, Winter 2020

"The Problem with Parking is that it isn't going anywhere"


Community Submission:  900 Block Caledonia

Site Programming Wish List:

1. Density & Affordability

2. Must pass the trick-or-treat test

3. Fun amenities

4. Architecturally unique

5. Needs to support principles of diversity and inclusion

Site & Policy Context

City: Victoria

Neighbourhood: North Park

Address: 900 block of Caledonia

Current Land Use: Parking Lot

Policy Context: Urban Core Residential

Density: 1.2 to 2.5 FSR

Height: Six Storeys

Land Use: Mixed-Use

Design Team

D'Ambrosio Architecture & Urbanism

Always up for a challenge, we shared this site with Franc D'Ambrosio and his team and they were excited to develop a unique concept that would ask some interesting questions but also create a model for architectural inclusivity and creativity.  


About DAU  

DAU is a multidisciplinary team of 14 staff that includes architects, intern architects, urban designers, environmental and interior designers and building technologists based in the Selkirk Waterfront District of Victoria, BC. The firm is the culmination of Franc D’Ambrosio’s 28-year presence in Victoria as a respected architect and urban designer. DAU has an established record of creating functional, memorable and inspiring buildings and places from conception to realization for a broad range of clients. 

The Why

Conceived as a plausible alternative to homogenous residential infill development, this conceptual proposal raises the question:

Can there be a more integrative, vibrant and multi-purpose redevelopment of publicly owned urban land?


The North Park Tower Neighbourhood Project is a hypothetical urban design and architectural proposal to use a public infrastructure project as a means to improve life for more people in the City. It is intended to spark imaginative thinking and contribute to a conversation about how to make a growing City a more complex and resilient place for people to thrive.

- Franc, Erica, and Josh at DAU

Aerial Context


The Caledonia parking lot concept is situated in the North Park neighbourhood of Victoria and is bounded by Caledonia Ave, Green St, and Vancouver Street. The 74,000sf site has multiple frontages and is within walking distance of frequent transit, bike ways and pedestrian pathways that lead to local and regional connections. The built form is evolving and is currently made up of a mix of commercial, park, single family and multifamily developments of various vintages. 

Site Plan


This unsolicited proposal illustrates the potential of what has been, for years, a surface parking lot between Caledonia Avenue, Green Street and Vancouver Street in the North Park Neighbourhood, next to Royal Athletic Park.



Neighbourhood Architecture

Comprised of small-scale recreation facilities and residential apartments, the main inner- block building and tower are conceived as a publicly accessible landmark. The 17 Metre tall observation tower will have a public stair and elevator (for those who are unable or unwilling to clamber up the hand-holds of the interior wall!). The top observation level will afford dramatic views of the North Park Neighbourhood and beyond. It will be an identifying beacon for this urban neighbourhood. The building’s south wing steps down from the roof terrace to the Vancouver Greenway Park like a richly- planted grandstand, welcoming people to climb and sit on the sunny steps overlooking the neighbourhood Green.

Circulation and Parking

A new north-south, ‘through block’, shared-use lane connects Green Street and Caledonia as well as providing daycare drop-off, a mid-block walkway and access to a 1, 2, or 3 level below- grade garage under the entire former parking lot site.

Specific Design Features

The North Park Tower Project takes it’s name from the interior climbing-wall and neighbourhood observation tower illustrated in the schematic drawings of this proposal. In addition to climbing, this speculative proposal for a neighbourhood-scaled recreation facility includes: a small gymnasium; badminton courts; games, art and music spaces; social services offices; seniors and teens multi-purpose spaces; as well as a children’s daycare. The main entrance of the VicRec Centre is at the base of the North Park Tower, facing the new pocket park (or Green) on a block of the restricted-traffic Vancouver Street Greenway.

 Above the neighbourhood Rec-Centre could be 3 or 4 floors of rental apartments with a common roof terrace. Surrounding this building, a pedestrian lane separates the rear patios of townhouses that would have their front entrances and porches along Caledonia Avenue to the south and Green Street to the north. There would be a wide variety of apartment and townhouse sizes with no distinguishing building features between differing tenure.

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