CURV will be a global flagship tower heralding a new era, official says

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As a boy growing up in England, Tom Wright envisioned becoming a soldier one day.

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“But my father decided that instead of me joining the army, which is what I wanted, I said, ‘Don’t destroy buildings, put up some buildings.'”

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The next building designed by Wright, the CURV in downtown Vancouver, is the British architect’s first in North America. He may be most famous for his design of the “seven-star” dhow, which was inspired by Dubai’s Burj al Arab, but it’s the CURV he likes to talk about the most, he says.

A picture taken on May 14, 2015 shows a view of Dubai's Burj al-Arab Hotel from the Mina al-Salam Beach Hotel and tourist resort in Jumeirah.
A picture taken on May 14, 2015 shows a view of Dubai’s Burj al-Arab Hotel from the Mina al-Salam Beach Hotel and tourist resort in Jumeirah. Photo by PATRICK BAZ /AFP/Getty Images

Construction begins next year at Nelson and Thurlow streets, with an estimated completion date of 2029. When complete, the CURV will be the world’s tallest passive house at 60 stories and the tallest residential tower in Vancouver.

It is also the first construction project in Vancouver for Montreal-based developer Brivia.

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“The passive house part of the project is the important part, not what (the building) looks like,” Wright said Tuesday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony to start pre-sales, which begin May 27.

“It’s really pushing the limit of how little energy a tall building should use, that’s the essence of the building, how little energy we can use.

“Then if it’s successful as a building – and we have every right to believe it will be successful – it becomes like a prototype for future buildings.”

Render CURV
Architect Tom Wright was inspired by the sinuous forms of nature when he designed CURV, a new development in downtown Vancouver that, when completed in 2029, will be the tallest Passive House certified building in the world. Photo of delivered /PNG

Intended to resemble the unfolding of a fresh, green shoot emerging from a crack in a city sidewalk, the CURV — Wright’s design — will feature 96 public housing units (averaging about 10 units per floor), interiors by award-winning designer Andres Escobar, and an amenities area on the roof.

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Passive houses, an international term for zero-carbon buildings, don’t require heating or air conditioning (there’s a handy YouTube video called Passive House Explained in 90 Seconds).

Energy is harvested from body heat, appliances and other passive sources, and the building’s solar windows automatically change transparency according to the amount of sunlight, becoming more opaque and transparent on hot summer afternoons when a bit of solar energy inside would be welcome.

Handout rendering of Brivia Group's new CURV kitchen, living space in a condominium.
Handout rendering of Brivia Group’s new CURV kitchen, living space in a condominium. Photo by CURV by Brivia Group /jpeg

Meanwhile, the ventilation system absorbs heat before the inside air is replaced with fresh air from outside. AAccording to Brivia, CURV will use one kilowatt hour of electricity per square meter annually, about 1/15th the industry standard for passive houses.

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Or, as Kheng Ly, the company’s President and CEO, put it, staying one step ahead of other developers when it comes to sustainability. Wright said Brivia is unusual as a developer in that it often goes beyond basic build requirements.

“All over the world (developers) are doing the bare minimum… (Brivia) wants to move the agenda,” Wright said. “You need buildings like CURV to prove it’s possible.”

When completed, CURV will be a monument to architecture, interior design, technology and engineering, said Vincent Kou, Brivia’s chief investment and development officer.

“CURV will be the flagship tower representing us globally,” he said. “It will truly create a new era and time for real estate investing and ownership, where everything else after that point will become obsolete.”

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Handout depicting Brivia Group's new CURV tower in Nelson and Thurlow.
Handout depicting Brivia Group’s new CURV tower in Nelson and Thurlow. Photo by CURV by Brivia Group /jpeg

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