In My Back Yard

Updated: May 14, 2018

D’Arcy Jones of D’Arcy Jones Architecture explains their stealth approach to densification.

The population of a single-family neighbourhood could be tripled without destroying its character.

Our idea was originally submitted to City of Vancouver’s RE: THINK HOUSING competition. The proposal adds density, and then completely hides it. You earn rental income and your dinner guests can still find a parking in front of your house.

The solution explores excavating the front and backyard of a typical Vancouver lawn to accommodate four discrete residential suites. Dwelling units are concealed with a lid of lawn, punctuated with skylights and airy courtyards, while maintaining privacy for everyone.

The way we see it, laneway housing is a timid approach to densification. At best it will add a single dwelling for 1-2 people. Our approach to densification provides four courtyard dwellings to existing homes, tripling the population in Vancouver’s single-family residential zones, without perceivably changing them. Additionally our proposal provides six parking spaces in a structure that visibly conforms to current parking bylaws.


The dwelling units are concealed with a lid of lawn, punctuated with light slots and courtyards in the most unused corners of the yard. Natural light pours into the suites from frosted glass skylights and courtyard openings, maintaining privacy for those above and below the lid.


The 60% of a lot that cannot be covered with a house or parking structure is an untapped resources in all single family residentially zoned neighborhoods. Our proposal fills this excavated 60% leaving the existing house and garage as-is, then fills the void with 4 different units, ranging from a studio to a spacious two bedroom.


Airy courtyards create private outdoor spaces for each new dwelling unit. The residents of the existing house can carry on hot-tubbing, barbecuing and mowing the lawn above. By locating the entrances to each unit at the corners of the lot, privacy is maintained for the residents of the existing house; they don’t have to share their yard with anyone. As you were!



D'Arcy Jones Architecture Inc.

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