COLLABORATOR: Jerin Dunsmoor
TSAWWASSEN, B.C. – In response to the communities need for a social gathering space, we were approached to transform an existing home into a cafe. The transformations within and around the structure were deliberately simple with small interventions being introduced where they had the most impact.
After critically researching and analysing the requirements and functional organization of existing cafes and coffee shops throughout Vancouver. we decided to approach the design and construction informally, making transformations and design decisions on-site in response to the context and existing elements.
All unique features of the site and home were kept and enhanced by the redesign in close collaboration
with the client. Cosmetically, exterior windows were replaced and retrimmed. Double doors were installed
at the entry and the existing overhang was extended, giving the cafe inviting character. Half of a beautiful
Dutch door, the former entry into the home, was kept and opens out onto the new entry platform to be used
as a serving window for local residents.
New sliding doors were installed, opening out from the main seating space to a intimate patio/garden space. Receiving direct sunlight all day, this space is perfect for outdoor socializing and enjoying nature. The existing side yard sheds attached to the home were transformed into sheltered viewing platforms looking out onto the patio and garden. Simple in character, these elements are a perfect complement to the beautiful patio, as spaces where smaller parties requiring more privacy can congregate, while enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the garden.
The transformations within the house were deliberately simple. The partitions and dimensions of the existing spaces were kept as a means of maintaining the intimate, residential feel of the original home. Smaller interventions were introduced where they had the most impact. For example, doors were discarded
and a small punctures created in order to allow views between spaces. A wonderful highlight is the
wall puncture that creates a visual connection to a more private sitting room at the rear end of the cafe and
also serves as an art platform. The smaller room at the rear also used for the meeting of local groups such as
the book club.
All aspect of the cafe were design and constructed barrier-free in order to accomodate the elderly and disabled. Therefore, the entry platform was reconstructed with a ramp. Furthermore, the bathroom was reconstructed with wider dimensions and barrier-free detailing (i.e. grab bars, etc.).
Building materials (framing and finishes) and fixtures were salvaged from the original structure and reused whenever possible – minimizing unnecessary costs while ensuring the responsible use of natural resources. Similarly, new materials were chosen based on their lifecycle, environmental responsibility, and quality of the spaces being created.
The Windy Bay Cafe demonstrates the benefits of designing and building in direct response to context while maintaining an environmentally consciousness. It is a project that sensitively reorganized both indoor and outdoor spaces, enhanced their latent potential, and created beautiful, intimate, spaces of social congregation.