Love them or hate them, Vancouver is best known for one particular architectural style of home: the Vancouver Special aka the “Van Special”.
Vancouver Special is a term used to refer to houses built in a particular architectural style, in mass quantities, from roughly 1965 to 1985 in Vancouver, BC and its suburbs.
Vancouver Specials are best known by their extremely typical “box-like” structure, low-pitched roofs & balconies across the front of the house. Brick or stone finishes on the ground-floor are common of the lower level facades, with “California” stucco on the upper floors. Vancouver Specials have similar floor plans with the main living quarters on the upper floor and secondary bedrooms on the bottom, making them ideal for rental suites or larger extended families.
Because of these large functional floor plans that lent themselves well to rental or secondary suites or simply extra bedrooms for larger families, Vancouver Specials were the house of choice for most immigrant families.
In the ’60s and ’70s, Portuguese, Greek and Italian families bought or custom built many of these homes on the East Side of Vancouver. I personally was raised in one and have very fond memories of it and my parents; in fact, still to this day live in that same corner lot Vancouver Special built in 1977.
In later years, they became popular with a new wave of immigrants from South Asia and China, primarily due to their spacious floorplan that could accommodate a large extended family or have a mortgage helper.
Recently, there’s been a resurgence in popularity with young, growing families who are looking for a modern aesthetic and space for a mortgage helper.
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