An Architectural Monad

A quartet of stacked houses presents a new architectural model for Vancouver

Oliver Lang is a German-born architect who recently relocated to Vancouver, Canada where he founded an architectural practice with his wife, Cindy Wilson. As the two made plans to address their own immediate housing needs, they began to think bigger and started reflecting on the evolving nature of modern dwelling spaces. Looking toward West Coast Modernism, Lang adapted the idea of the post-and-beam house to suit the contemporary needs of Vancouver, which faces both rising land prices and increasing population density. These stacked houses allow separate residences to be prefabricated and assembled using a modular system of posts and beams. Ultimately, Lang sees the traditional horizontal configuration of the single-family home giving way to a vertical orientation, one that deviates from the model espoused by the high-rise condominium.

Lang Wilson Practice in Architectural Culture | Harry Bertoia's Large Diamond Chair in Vancouver, Canada

Photograph by Kamil Bialous.

Glass, concrete, and steel define the textural dimension of the interior space which is furnished with pieces by various mid-century designers, from Arne Jacobsen to Harry Bertoia. An azure blue Bertoia Bird Chair occupies a commanding view in the living room while the Large Diamond Chair is sequestered in the adjacent reading room, where Lang’s two daughters, Fiona and Olivia, like to play. Up above, nature has been seamlessly integrated within the open-air rooftop lounge, which doubles as a substitute for a traditional backyard.

Lang Wilson Practice in Architectural Culture | Harry Bertoia's Bird Chair in Vancouver, Canada

Photograph by Kamil Bialous.

With the completion of the four-story project, the new domicile needed a name. Lang chose “Monad,” referencing the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz, who uses the term to denote the theoretical primary unit of the universe. It’s a fitting moniker, given Lang’s interest in creating a new dwelling unit for city planners and commercial builders alike. However, he notes, it will be sometime before we see these units being championed by major decision-makers.

Project Credits:

Design: Lang Wilson Practice in Architectural Culture
Photography: Kamil Bialous


Bertoia Large Diamond Chair
Bertoia Bird Chair