Inspired by the principles of the WELL Building Standard, O2 is a collection of 285 condominiums by Keltic Development in the heart of Metrotown.

We had a chance to speak with Norm Chin, architect at dys architecture, to discuss the upcoming O2 in Burnaby.  O2 is the first-of-its-kind living experience with 285 one, two-and three bedroom homes in Metrotown under development by Keltic Development.

260 – 1770 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, V6J 3G7

560 Johnson St #201, Victoria, BC
V8W 3C6

T: 604.669.7710

When you go into a new project like O2, what’s your creative process like? What was your architectural and design inspiration?

At our firm, we approach every project with a blend of professional curiosity and a dedication to teamwork. Our process commences with a thorough understanding of our client’s objectives and aspirations for the endeavor. Subsequently, we engage closely with the client and their stakeholders from the outset of the design phase, extending our support throughout the construction process. Our commitment to collaboration ensures that we align our efforts seamlessly with the client’s vision, fostering a productive and harmonious working relationship.

At our firm, fostering positive teamwork is a cornerstone of our approach to every project.  We place a strong emphasis on engaging clients fully in the development process to gain a comprehensive understanding of their needs and to leverage their creative insights. To achieve this, we’ve honed specific design methodologies tailored to this objective.  This upfront investment often yields tangible results, facilitating the successful realization of workable concepts and initial designs that are both constructible and architecturally appealing.

At the heart of our team’s ethos are our core values of respect, integrity, compassion, and collaboration. We are driven by a commitment to delivering technically, financially, and socially responsible solutions, prioritizing excellence in every aspect of our work.

During the initial phases of design, we diligently conduct research to comprehend the contextual nuances of the site. Our investigation extends from the broader macro context down to the intricate micro details, encompassing neighbourhood plans, city-wide considerations, and site-specific elements such as streets and edges. This comprehensive understanding forms the basis for a robust design concept that profoundly influences our creative inspiration.

In our design approach, we refrain from prescribing a specific aesthetic or architectural style. Each project is unique, and no two buildings bear identical appearances. This commitment to individuality ensures that our designs authentically respond to the distinct requirements and character of each site and client.

With O2, our approach was deeply rooted in drawing inspiration from the surrounding neighbourhood and its context. The proposed building form seamlessly integrates into the existing high-rise typology prevalent in the area. Throughout the design process, we prioritized respecting and honouring the community, which served as a guiding principle shaping the overall architectural approach.

We deliberately embraced a mixed modern architectural vocabulary, reflecting the diverse urban fabric of the neighbourhood. By blending natural features of the cityscape into our design, we aimed to create a harmonious transition between the built environment and its surroundings. For instance, the varying vertical and horizontal expressions of the exterior walls and balconies abstractly mirror the dynamic cityscape.  

The design of the balconies, converging to form horizontal banding, pays homage to the layers of low-rise apartments and single-family homes characteristic of the neighbourhood. Similarly, the shifting verticality of window arrangements and balcony groupings evokes the modern density increase observed in urban centres.  In essence, our development embodies a sense of pride in the evolving urban landscape, weaving together elements of both traditional and innovation to create a cohesive architectural statement.

“We firmly believe that our projects should be designed with the end user’s functionality and livability in mind, without compromising architectural integrity.”

Norm Chin Principal
Architect AIBC, MRAIC

How do you prioritize functionality and aesthetics in the O2 design?

At our firm, we prioritize functionality as the cornerstone of our residential layouts, ensuring optimal livability for residents. Our building designs are meticulously crafted to incorporate efficiencies and considerations for constructibility. Beyond initial research, these technical aspects significantly influence the aesthetics and architectural style of our projects.

We firmly believe that projects should be designed with the end user’s functionality and livability in mind, without compromising architectural integrity.  Success, both personally and for dys architecture, is defined by our ability to actively engage clients throughout the process and fully meet their needs.

O2 serves as a notable example of our collaborative approach, as our team closely collaborated with Keltic and their marketing team to establish project objectives. This collaboration, combined with our commitment to exemplary urban design and contextual integration, guided our design process for the buildings. 


How do you incorporate sustainability into your designs?

Projects in British Columbia are mandated to meet stringent energy targets, serving as a primary driving force behind our endeavours. Our planning methodology is intricately tailored to consider building orientation, optimizing access to views, daylight, and natural ventilation, all while adhering to municipal design policies and guidelines.

When conceptualizing façade design, we meticulously balance the interplay between window-to-wall ratios, balcony strategies, and thermal bridging, all while ensuring architectural expression remains uncompromised. Furthermore, we provide recommendations on building products and systems aimed at achieving sustainable and energy-efficient standards. In the case of O2, the client’s aspiration to align with WELL standards further shaped our approach. Through close collaboration with the client, interior design team, and mechanical consultants, we meticulously crafted functional layouts and dwelling units aimed at enhancing the end user’s living experience.


For more information
dys architecture