EVENTS: Digital Transformation / Digital Twin Summit at BCIT

Last week, members of the SHAPE Architecture team attended the Digital Transformation / Digital Twin Summit hosted by BCIT. Numerous speakers from across industries shared their insights on how different initiatives could be taken with Digital Twin technologies in the future.

We found that Digital twins span many industries – from industrial processes (e.g. steel factories), to buildings (individual buildings to group clusters), all the way to civic infrastructure (e.g transit lines like the Canada Line). They offer immense value in testing various scenarios with little incremental cost compared to real-world simulations.

Our team highlighted a few learnings from the event.

  • Digital twins offer safety and cost benefits for training compared to real-world training (the aviation industry has been using flight simulators similar to this for well over a decade)
  • Digital twins offer immense value in testing various scenarios with little incremental cost compared to real-world simulations.
  • Digital twins span many industries, from industrial processes (e.g. steel factories) to buildings (individual buildings like airports to groups of buildings such as post-secondary campuses or even small cities) to civic infrastructure (e.g transit lines like the Canada Line)
  • Virtual Reality (VR) can be used to experience digital twin models.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) is combining the digital twin model with direct views of reality through lenses. However this technology is a few years away.
  • LIDAR is a technology that can be used to create digital twins of existing entities. Very accurate and relatively low cost.

Looking to the future, the cost of data capture is dropping dramatically (i.e. sensors). How do we synthesize, visualize and utilize this opportunity? As architects, how can we ensure future-proofing for buildings we are designing now?

When data is gathered over time within a digital twin, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can be used to forecast future behavior of the system.

AI and ML need immense quantities of data, so working in siloes hinders this learning. Instead, there is immense value in sharing data across industry partners to feed AI and ML algorithms. On another hand, we recognize that while AI and ML can be incredibly beneficial, it will be critical to retain privacy. To do so, identifiers can and should be removed from data anonymize it.

DIGITAL TWINS 1/12: Whistler Home

Welcome to the first of a new monthly 12-part series – DIGITAL TWINS.

What are Digital Twins? They are virtual models that often precede their real-world architectural counterparts and sometimes continue to twin the life of real buildings in a predictive manner; which can help us to better understand how buildings perform. This series will showcase outstanding Digital Twins – buildings and architecture that have been created over the course of SHAPE Architecture’s history.

This month, we’re featuring a custom home on a steeply sloping forest site on Whistler Mountain. The house is envisaged as a rhizomic organism, emerging from the forest floor. The resultant form is a twin massing, separated above ground to create an intimate series of shared outdoor spaces – connected by a series of underground pathways and “roots”.

Keep your eyes out for the next one in January!

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

SHAPE Architecture is closed on Friday Sept 30th to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This statutory day is one of the 94 Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. Also Orange Shirt Day, it honours the lost children and survivors of Canada’s residential school system. It is a day for thought and reflection – by educating ourselves, we raise our awareness of the inter-generational impacts of Indigenous history, and what it means for reconciliation.

Below are links to resources shared amongst the team. Join us in developing a better understanding, learning more about the calls to action, and how you can get involved.

Learning Resources


You can also spend the day immersing yourself at Local Events in the Greater Vancouver area.



Image credit: Government of Canada

Maple Grove Elementary: What does this open air school look like to you?

Back during the design process for Maple Grove Elementary, alongside Montgomery Sisam Architects, we asked teachers, parents and students to imagine an open-air school concept. Their ideas contributed to the final forms of MGE.

We recently visited the school and came across student interpretations of the new school building. We snapped some photos — seriously talented artists here!

Learn more about Maple Grove Elementary here.

ANNOUNCEMENT: VMC Millwork Takes Gold in 31st AWMAC Awards

Congratulations to Front First Designs for a well-deserved win at the 31st AWMAC BC Awards of Excellence! Their millwork for the Vancouver Masonic Centre project took home the Gold Award for Excellence in Quality – Large Commercial Buildings.

The Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) is the national voice of Canada’s architectural woodwork industry.

We’re thankful to have been able to work with such an amazing team. Kudos Urban One Builders, Colliers International, and all our stellar consultants!

Click here for more about the AWMAC Awards and previous years.

Click here for more about the Vancouver Masonic Centre + Affordable Housing.

PROJECT UPDATE: West King Edward Affordable Housing

Installation of the wood soffit and siding in the courtyards of this affordable rental housing project on West King Edward is almost complete! Residents can enjoy multiple open and covered courtyards in this building where warm tones of hemlock and the landscaping provide a pleasant space for neighbours to socialize.

This 100% affordable rental development comprises of 36 units ranging from studios to three bedrooms. Learn more about the project here.

PROJECT UPDATE: Just West Townhouses

The Just West Townhouses have come a long way since our last update in late 2021. This project is now complete! As part of the City of Vancouver’s Cambie Corridor Planning, this project includes stacked townhouses along West King Edward and Manitoba Streets as well as typical townhouses along the lane.

The project is arranged around a large village green that includes extensive landscaping and a storm water management system. Green roofs help to slow the flow of rainwater into the City’s civil infrastructure.

Learn more about the project here. 

UBC North Rec Centre South Plaza

PROJECT UPDATE: Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre Expansion

Have you seen the latest renderings for the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre Expansion?

The main entry plaza leads you into the Community Living Room, a dynamic multi-use space that continues throughout the building to the Social Heart of the park on the other side. The Social Heart is a natural outdoor living room with community gardens and a great lawn that will be used for outdoor learning, fitness or special events.

Construction will begin in Spring 2023, with estimated completion in 2024. Learn more about the project here: 👉

The City of Surrey recently held an open house to welcome community feedback for the proposed design. If you missed the in-person open house, you can still share your thoughts, ask questions and view the design boards online until August 10th: 👉


The Grant Street project consists of a Net Zero infill and the retention of an existing character house with a new vertical addition.

Currently the project is the construction phase, with work steadily progressing by Rain City Homes. During our recent visit, we were excited to see the installation of the metal standing seam underway. Following completion of the cladding, the next steps will be for the installation of the solar panels.

Stay tuned for more updates!


SHAPE Architecture is excited to share that our Mateah project has passed a public hearing in Saanich last week! This mixed-used development is located on the border between Royal Oak and Carey and is comprised of three buildings connected by large external public spaces to provide a unique opportunity for connecting existing residential, commercial, and light industrial uses in the neighborhood to a vibrant community hub.

Mateah will include more than 250 new market and affordable housing, as well as amenities such as a non-profit childcare centre, a medical campus, and commercial and light industrial businesses. We are appreciative of our team and the broader community for their input and support over the past three years!

To learn more about the project, please visit this link.