A nondescript building on the north side of Jasper Avenue between 103 and 104 Streets is expected to soon make way for a bold new architectural statement. On a site just 7½ metres wide and squeezed between two historical buildings, local realtor Oliver O'Connor is hoping to build a masterpiece aptly-named The Wedge.

The Wedge - Jasper Avenue elevation, image courtesy Holo-Blok

SkyriseEdmonton recently sat down with Roddy Handa, CEO and Architect at local design firm Holo-Blok, to learn more about the proposed building and its design influences.

Holo-Blok is a relatively new name to design in Edmonton; having started as a technology company supporting architectural building design, the company quickly took an interest in expanding their services to include architectural design. Handa says his company is looking to design for developers wanting to take risks in their designs, and to overall raise the design bar in Edmonton.

The Wedge - Jasper Avenue looking west, image courtesy Holo-Blok

In describing The Wedge, Handa says they are looking to build an 11 story, 38½-metre-tall building with retail space occupying the ground floor and basement, and 34 residential units above. The biggest challenge, he says, was planning the circulation and figuring out how to make the most the efficient use of space with just 3,700 square-feet.

Future site of The Wedge (and the Birks Diamond), photo by Dave Sutherland

Additionally, Handa hopes to safely remove the three-dimensional diamond from the neighbouring Birks building, and to preserve it by incorporating it into the new building.

The Wedge - view from 103 Street, image courtesy Holo-Blok

Handa described the design of The Wedge as being heavily influenced by the redevelopment of Hastings Pier in England, a project which won the Stirling Prize for excellence in architecture in 2017. In particular, he was struck by the the angular patterns created from charred wood of the original pier that was destroyed by fire in 2010.

Hastings Pier, photo by Jules & Jenny via Creative Commons on Flickr

Handa described wanting to express the stress of materials and the "tectonics" of a building wedged into a narrow gap, as though The Wedge had been literally wedged into the site from above.

The Wedge - Jasper Avenue looking east, image courtesy Holo-Blok

Holo-Blok has had very positive engagement with city planners on the file according to Handa, helping navigate the variances that are required to make the project work under the existing Heritage Area zoning. While some exceptions to usual requirements for parking and loading zones will be the only way to make any development of the site viable, Handa believes they are striking the right balance.

The Wedge - view from 104 Street, image courtesy Holo-Blok

SkyriseEdmonton will be sure to return to this project as progress continues. For more information, check out the associated Database file and Forum thread, and as always, feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below. 

Related Companies:  ACI Architects, Arrow Engineering, Holo Blok, Protostatix , SMP Engineering