Connecting a home to a place requires a considered effort. It demands a technically astute understanding of how a home ages, how it is used, and a holistic view of the cultural and geographical environment. In the practice of Vancouver-based multidisciplinary studio &Daughters, it’s this elusive skill of connecting elements that tethers each of the architects’ projects together. “I wouldn’t say that we have an aesthetic that is strung through each of our projects,” co-founder Darcy Hanna says. “Our job is to understand clients’ needs and then understand the context that is relevant to the project–that could be site considerations, cultural considerations, or elements of the brand. That is a skill and a strength of ours.”
Founded by Hanna and Emma Sims in 2017, &Daughter’s reserved sensibility pays homage to West Coast modern design by centering regional materiality. Hailing from the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Sims and Hanna established a design kinship as deskmates. “Part of our education at UBC was the really rich history of modern domestic design moving up from California, all the way up the west coast, Hanna says. “We love the work of Fred Hollingsworth, Cornelia Oberlander, Barry Downs, Ron Thom, Dan White–there’s so much to learn from there and take from there.”
The name &Daughters nods to the historical underrepresentation of women in architecture, serving to emphasize the value of a fresh perspective. After some time spent in the field with local firms such as Scott Posno Design and Ste. Marie Art + Design, Hanna and Sims reconvened to establish their own distinctive design language. Since forming, &Daughters has lent its measured approach to a variety of domestic and hospitality projects such as eyewear brand Frankly’s Toronto location and Vancouver café Small Victory’s up-and-coming Burnaby location.
The duo have approached projects–a primary example being the Grouse Mountain home in North Vancouver—by bringing a contemporary lens to modernist typologies. Picking up on the forested landscape surrounding the property, a dark green kitchen accented with Cesca cantilever bar chairs in clumsy hands could feel fashionable, but Sims and Hanna artfully make space for bold statements. “We don’t want our work to be based around anything trend-driven,” Sims explains. “It may not appeal to everyone, and it may not be ‘Instagram worthy,’ but I think showing restraint and being selective as to how you choose and implement materials–we choose to take those bold moves in a measured way.” The interior renovation of the main floor living space holds true to the midcentury achievements of function over form, with streamlined furnishings and lighting of the era such as a blue pendant lamp by Jo Hammerborg.
Moving into other residential projects, including an influx of requests for multigenerational homes in the wake of the pandemic as well as retail projects such as stylish Vancouver head shop All Day Breakfast, the studio retains an interest in furthering the understanding of place and how to create meaningful spaces. “There are all kinds of lineages of interest and ways people have developed architecture that is distinctive to this part of the world,” Sims reflects. “We’re interested in referencing that in appropriate ways, as well.”