Vancouver Special House Tour

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Explore Vancouver's familiar housing styles from the 1950s on

Saturday April 16, 2016 1pm – 5pm

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the 2016 tour! It was a great day with some intriguing additions. Check back for information about the 2017 tour early in the year. You can also check out our other house tours.

Back for its 8th year, this tour is a chance to explore Vancouver Specials and some other housing styles popular around Vancouver from the 1950s on. This era’s buildings were often the family homes we all grew up in. This tour of five houses shows how these familiar homes can be adapted to modern living. On April 16th, we will look at three traditional Vancouver Specials including a rare duplex that have been beautifully modernized, including a Very early Special with several design nods to the Mid-Century Modern movement. We will also open a mid-century bungalow and a 1950s era split-level home, both renovated to fit modern lifestyles. The tour is sure to serve as inspiration for the potential found in common, modest housing styles from the middle decades across the city.

VHF greatly appreciates the six homeowners and one tenant who are generously opening their homes.

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.


From Restoring Community, VHF's own heritage documentary, the cultural history of the Vancouver Special with Naveen Girn and the St. Amour family. Watch the full documentary here.

The 2014 pre-tour lecture included a historic talk about Strathcona to explain the infill housing from the 1970's designed by Architect Joe Wai. Joe Wai talked at length about the SPOTA story and the community resistance that saved Strathcona in the late 1960's.

Watch the Joe Wai Talk - April 16th 2014

Love them or hate them, Specials represent a significant aspect of Vancouver's architectural heritage. On the 2014 tour, we opened 5 Specials all with a unique spin on the classic Special. Featuring a Joe Wai home, a style found only in Strathcona, to a European styled home constructed from concrete block.

The sheer quantity of Specials and their adaptability has made them very attractive to first time buyers. The well-built Special is adaptable for so many uses - family, rental suite, trendy pad - all making the most of the clean lines and minimalist living offered by these houses.

Professional Development Credits: The Vancouver Special House Tour qualifies for 3 Non-Core LUs granted by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia.

Many of the houses open on the tour demonstrate the integration of original Special features with modern Vancouver living, from modest to big budget.

VHF is excited to see this stock gain respect and value, so Specials are retained and not sent to the landfill!

Check out this great video produced by all about the Vancouver Special


Below are brochures from previous tour years