The Passages City of Surrey, Canada


The Passages offers a radical new model for the urbanisation of North America’s suburbs. This mixed-use scheme at the heart of the emerging City of Surrey in British Columbia re-imagines the development model of towers emerging from private podium as a permeable pedestrian quarter of diverse building types and uses. Five public passages lead to a civic square at the scheme’s heart: a place of movement and gathering for both new residents and the project’s wider Surrey constituency.

An Open City Quarter

Working to produce a more inclusive, socially diverse and economically resilient paradigm shift in Vancouver’s development pattern, this proposal for The Passages on Whalley Boulevard is for an open city block, with free-flowing public space at its heart: a common ground given to a wide range of community, commercial and recreational uses. The scheme offers an exceptional urban condition by focusing on permeability and public space accessible to all via a series of passages. These lead to an open piazza at its centre, integrating high density housing with informal, meandering lanes, bringing movement through the site. Ground floor spaces include a community hall, creche, commercial spaces and co-workspaces at the base of each tower. 

Creating a New Urban Context

The Passages’ six polygonal plan buildings have no front or back; all façades are on display and active, serving as extensions of the public realm. There are three building typologies proposed across the site: Flatiron Towers, Point Blocks and a timber-framed, mixed-use courtyard Mansion Block; a new typology to the Vancouver housing market. Together they offer a variety of form and scale, façade and texture, all contributing to the landscaped passages at grade. 

Echoing the Landscape of British Colombia

The scheme’s low-rise buildings share the granite material palette of the public realm to form a monolithic urban canvas and public stage for the 21,31 and 39 storey towers. In contrast, the three towers’ faceted, directional plan forms and ‘shingled’ iridescent aluminium cladding have a roughness that echoes at a super-scale the texture of British Columbian coastal forests. This organic quality is amplified by the towers’ green, blue and black tones. Deeply recessed continuous loggias offer every apartment a protective layer: shelter from the near-continuous rain, sun-shading, wind-protection and privacy, while 2.7m high ceilings optimise daylight. A large outcropping of granite provides a focal point in the Central Piazza, a natural surface for climbing, sitting, or adventurous play. 

The Passages gained consent from the City of Surrey in December 2019, with detailed design progressing.

89,943 m² (968,143 ft²)
Site Area
16,466 m² (177,238 ft²)
119.85m / 38 Storeys
1,102 Homes
669 d/ha
2,738 m² (29,467 ft²)
1,683 m² (18,114 ft²)
Public Realm
3,354 m² (36,102 ft²)
City Permit Granted
Rize Alliance
Alison Brooks Architects
IBI Group
PWL Partnership
Civil Engineer
CoreGroup Consultants
Goode Arboriculture
Bunt & Associates
Integral Group
Nemetz (S/A) & Associates
Glotman Simpson Consulting