About House Styles


House styles in Vancouver range from the traditional, such as the pioneer cottages of its early urban development, to the more modern forms of the Vancouver Special or Millennium Builder. Many homes bridge architectural styles, bringing together features from multiple styles in ways that can make them difficult to identify. This contributes to the unique architectural heritage one finds in the city today. Each house style is linked to the cultural context in which it was built, reflecting not only the materials and popular designs of the time but also glimpses of things like personal history and social status.

  • There are many housing styles that are underrepresented or absent in Vancouver, either because they were eliminated by earlier phases of reconstruction, were popular in periods before Vancouver’s Euro-Canadian settlement, or simply never gained popularity in the region. Many buildings from the early phases of settlement in the Vancouver region burned during the Great Fire of 1886, meaning most of the city postdates this event.
  • In contrast, most First Nations architecture disappeared in the process of colonization, leaving few traces of Vancouver’s pre-colonial homes. No original Coast Salish longhouses built by members of local host nations remain, although recent buildings have been based on this historical form. Representation of these once numerous house forms have been included in the webtool to reflect their influence and returning visibility.
  • Building also slowed during the Great Depression, when materials were scarce, which continued through World War II. Few homes were built during this period, until the end of the war in 1945. Today, wartime housing is limited in Vancouver, small and quickly built, so that many of these homes have been demolished to make way for larger, more modern buildings. However, many homes have survived the years to contribute to the city that we see today.


Many people were involved in the development of the Vancouver House Styles webtool over the years. A committee made up of local historians, architects, and planners selected Vancouver’s definitive house styles. Summer students and volunteers completed the sketches and photography, while volunteers with experience in heritage-related fields helped with the writing of the original content. Updates in 2017 – 2018 added further images and drawings as well as several additional house styles. The Vancouver House Styles webtool would not exist without the contributions of many people, whose names are listed below.

Thank you to everybody involved with the Vancouver House Styles webtool:

  • John Atkin
  • Christine Doeinghaus
  • Hannah Edmunds
  • Jacquie Forbes-Roberts
  • Sharon Fortney
  • Jeannette Hlavach
  • Richard Keate
  • Michael Kluckner
  • Don Luxton
  • Hugh McLean
  • Sam Mickelson
  • Carolina Pouchard
  • Hassan Sayed
  • SplitMango Media Inc.
  • VHF Staff
  • Adnet Communications Inc.