A 120 year old house is stripped of its 1960s era stucco. Underneath, original siding with an uncommon profile is revealed and looked to be in great shape. The next day the siding is ripped of the house and tossed. The house is gutted and all of the interior fittings hit the disposal bin. The porch posts have been left in situ as have the windows.
As the house is jacked up for the new foundation the windows disappear, but the porch columns remain. Back down on the foundation, new wall studs appear as the original diagonal sheathing boards are replaced with plywood sheets. New porch framing begins and the porch columns have been removed.
And so it goes.
In the end there will be a house with a similar profile as the original, but let’s not pretend that there is any heritage or conservation involved in a project like this. To properly describe what’s going on I’d like to propose that we introduce a new term: volumetric preservation.
It’s a bit more honest and maybe a new category for award presentations (because a new house with an old newel post really isn’t a heritage project) and it’s an easier way to describe this peculiar Vancouver brand of retention and character.