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Mid-Century Modern House Tour

Explore the timeless aesthetic of an influential architectural movement


Saturday, September 26th 2015

Tour 1pm – 5pm, Reception 5pm – 7pm

Self-guided $90 (inc. $50 charitable tax receipt)

*Price does not include GST, which is applied to the non-donation cost only

*Please note the buses are currently at capacity. If you would like to be added to the waitlist please contact us at 604 264 9642 or by email

Just announced! The B.C. Electric Building, now The Electra, will be open on the tour! This award-winning showstopper was one of the first Modernist buildings in Vancouver and is recognized across Canada for its innovative design. Originally the head office of B.C. Electric, or B.C. Hydro, the building was converted into condos in the early 1990s. We’ll get to see inside a few of the unique apartments in this remarkable building. VHF has written about this building and its influential design for Spacing Vancouver. Check out the articles here and here and get excited to see inside on September 26th!

Spend an afternoon exploring examples of the influential Mid-Century Modernist style including the remarkable 1962 Danto Residence designed by Arthur Erickson. We will also enjoy a rare opportunity to see inside Arthur Erickson’s own home and garden. Compare the expansive commissioned work indicative of Erickson’s famed style with the relatively modest home he designed for himself. The tour also includes lesser known architects whose inventive work¬† explores the design characteristics that are hallmarks of the movement. All the homes on tour respond to the caveats of West Coast Modernism with an emphasis on the homes’ connection to nature, natural materials and simple construction methods. With a small number of attendees, this tour offers an up close look at the beauty found in Mid-Century Modernism’s simplicity to a select group of enthusiasts.

IMGP1325Whether you choose the self-guided or bus option, your ticket includes a $50 donation, with charitable tax receipt, to support VHF programming, an invitation to the wine and cheese reception at a stunning West Coast Modern home recently used in the Tim Burton feature film “Big Eyes” (space permitting), and a short talk from guest speaker Professor Leslie Van Duzer of the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. As this is a private home, there is limited capacity available for ticket-holders to attend the reception. If you know you are not able to attend, please inform us in advance so we can confirm space for as many people who would like to attend as possible. We are hopeful we can arrange space for all who are interested.¬†

Are you interested in taking a VHF house tour but not sure what to expect? Read our First Timer’s Guide to House Tours here.

Do you or someone you know live in a house that may be a good fit for one of our tours? We are continually searching for great examples of heritage or character, mid-century modern design, sympathetic lane homes behind heritage homes, or renovated Vancouver Specials to open on our tours. If you’d like to know more, or have your home considered for inclusion on a future tour, contact us 604 264 9642 or by email.

The Wong House Update:

_MG_8157 low resOpen in 2014, the Wong House is a lovely Mid-Century Modern home designed by Henry Lee who worked for Duncan McNab. Built for the parents of known philanthropist and businessman Milton Wong, the home has been passed down through three generations of the Wong Family. The home has heritage value for its association to Milton Wong, as well as its architecture. It also benefits from landscape design by internationally renowned landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, who has been responsible for several projects around Vancouver including Robson Square. The Wong House is her second commission in Vancouver and still features all the original design elements. The only change to her original plan is a carp pond that replaced a patch of lawn.

The Wong House was recently purchased from the Wongs by Pennyfarthing Homes who are looking at incorporating the home into a new housing development. The proposed design would designate the home, maintain it as a single-family residence and retain much of the original landscaping.

"Less is More", the phrase coined by the German designer Mies van der Rohe, aptly describes the Modern Movement that began in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Modernist designs were without historical precedent, they used new materials and technologies, and they conformed to a social ideal.

Vancouver developed an adaptation of the modern aesthetic known as West Coast Regional Style. Local designers used post-and-beam construction, stepped flat roofs with clerestory windows and wide expanses of glass that integrated the house with the natural setting.

Professional Development Credits: The Mid-Century Modern Tour qualifies for 3 Non-Core LUs granted by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia.

Mid-Century Modern Articles

A Lesson in Zoned Architectural Protection from Ottawa - Globe and Mail

At 93, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander is still one of Canada's most beloved landscape architects - Globe and Mail


Check out previous Mid-Century Modern tour brochures here:

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