James Higgins and Vick Yau were fresh out of UBC when leading manufacturer Lynden Door took interest in their innovative vented door creation. But getting their company VanAir to that stage and beyond was quickly accelerated with the help of B.C. agencies that specialize in local wood projects.
Higgins and Yau were working from a rented woodshop at UBC when they had a chance encounter with Lynden Door. Their door was installed at a professor’s office, and after seeing the product, Lynden Door sent teams to go over testing and manufacturing with the young company.
Launching an innovative product
The VanAir vented door provides ventilation in interiors without sacrificing acoustic and visual privacy. The door allows air to flow from one side, through its core, and out the other side.
“We took what we built in the classroom and now it is at a point where it is a mass-produced product that is also warranted,” says Yau.
This innovative product is designed to push indoor environmental quality to the next level. Since its infancy, VanAir received support from associations that acquired funding from the Government of B.C.’s Wood First program. UBC Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP) is instrumental in taking Higgins and Yau’s prototype through the product development stage with Lynden Door.
“There weren’t any roadblocks with the machinery, and we got funding as well,” says Yau. “CAWP gave us that springboard to test what designs would work and wouldn’t work. Those tools were very crucial to our success.”
UBC believes connecting entrepreneurs like Higgins and Yau to experts in their field at the infancy stage of a start-up is critical to success. “From prototype to a leading-edge door, CAWP has been an integral part of the design process at each step which makes it very rewarding to see VanAir’s continued growth,” says Jason Chiu, Managing Director, CAWP.
Promoting local innovation with wood
BC Wood is an active voice for the value-added industry and guides VanAir through its marketing efforts, locally and internationally. As a member, VanAir is offered continued trade show and networking opportunities with architects and designers.
“We pride ourselves on helping local wood product manufacturers grow faster by giving them the tools to access and expand in global markets they would not otherwise enter. VanAir is another local success story and were pleased to play a role,” says Brian Hawrysh, CEO, BC Wood.
That success has put them in many new exciting buildings, including the new Vancouver Public Library renovation expected to finish at the end of May.
“With a product like the ventilated door, it’s really about educating the market that something new exists,” says Yau. “It’s very hard to do this because this industry is so mature. To change that thinking process requires a lot of time, networking and money. BC Wood has helped us significantly.”
Picking up steam
Building on early success, VanAir, together with BC Wood, CAWP, and Lynden Door have created a marketing and business development strategy to help their product with long-term success.
“This first-to-market product is an efficient and cost-effective ventilation system that has created a new category in the built environment for interior doors,” says Al Jantzen, Business Development Manager, Lynden Door. “This design will be the first of many to be added to our portfolio with production expansion underway.”
Leading in B.C.’s value-added wood sector
Understanding the market, limitations and messaging is key for breaking into a market, and B.C. is primed to give technical and product development advice to like-minded companies.
Through its Wood First Program, the Province encourages the forest industry, researchers and design professionals to pay special attention to innovation in B.C.’s built environment.
The program encourages growing local and global markets while promoting climate-friendly construction and supporting B.C. forest-dependent communities, as seen through VanAir Design.
An increasing number of health-care facilities are incorporating wood to provide patients and visitors with a warm, natural aesthetic, and a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature.
Research begins to show the biophilic benefits of wood, which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Study results show students who spent time in rooms featuring natural wood exhibited lower stress reactivity. During all three periods of the study, stress, as measured by sympathetic nervous system activation, was measurably lower on average in the rooms featuring wood than in the non-wood office.
The bold, striking use of wood throughout the space — uncommon in such health-care settings— softens the hospital’s institutional feel and creates a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature, while standing up to weather, wear and tear, and rigorous maintenance. As the research on biophilic benefits of wood continues to grow, one of B.C.’s busiest hospitals leads the way in offering patients a comforting, supportive, and healing environment.
For architect and timber advocate Peter Busby, wood is one of nature’s greatest innovations
B.C. forest products are a predominant structural and finishing material for a wide range of transit infrastructure throughout the province, including airports, bus exchanges and SkyTrain stations. Learn more about the use of wood in transportation projects.
Learn about the latest wood design and construction trends within these four building applications while earning Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) recognized continuing learning units towards professional development.
With its wide-ranging use of different wood species, the Prince George Airport demonstrates how a high-traffic building can benefit from the resilience, versatility, durability, and thermal characteristics of wood. These were important considerations for this northern city, situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, which is prone to cold, harsh winters.
An effective insulator with a warm aesthetic, wood is particularly well suited to the demanding atmospheres of swimming pools — as well as ice rinks in arenas. Wood tolerates high levels of humidity, offers acoustic and thermal benefits, and absorbs and releases water vapour without compromising its structural integrity. Indoor pool design has evolved to include ample use of natural light and bold, innovative uses of B.C. wood from sustainably managed forests.
Interview with Darryl Condon, Managing Principal of HCMA Architecture + Design, who has embraced and often pioneered the use of wood and mass timber in community, civic, and recreational aquatic facilities throughout British Columbia and Canada. He shares why wood is often an integral material in the buildings they design, and how they’ve pushed the boundaries of what is possible with wood.
Located in John Hendry Park in east Vancouver, this ice rink was the first phase in the replacement of an aging community centre facility. The rink served as a practice facility for competitors who participated in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and opened for public use after the Games.