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International student 'pod-style' rental co-housing proposed for Oak Bay Junction

A rendering of 1693 Fort Street, a six-storey student housing rental complex proposed for Fort Street at Belcher Avenue. Comprised of 23 homes, the project will feature multi-room 'pods,' also known as rental co-housing, for international post-secondary students. D'Ambrosio Architecture/Urbanism; Aryze Developments

International student 'pod-style' rental co-housing proposed for Oak Bay Junction
‘Pod-style’ international student housing has been proposed for Oak Bay Junction by Victoria builder/developer Aryze Developments.
The six-storey concept features a collection of 23 co-housing suites, described as ‘pods,’ in layouts spanning between two and four-bedrooms with space for approximately 80 people. Residents will share common features like in-suite kitchens, communal spaces and main bathrooms, while individual rooms will include a bed, a desk and in some cases, a private bathroom.
Planned for 1693 Fort Street at Belcher Avenue, the project will replace a single-storey rental complex comprised of a half-dozen apartments – if approved – with a stepped triangular structure designed by Victoria-based D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism.
Carly Abrahams, Aryze Development’s development manager, says the project’s focus on international students is in response to difficulties non-natives can face when searching for accommodation in Victoria.
“With 7,000 international students relocating each year to attend post-secondary institutions within the Capital Region, we see a need for purpose designed and built student housing,” Abrahams says.
“International students often fall prey to scams while looking for off-campus housing online. A rental building dedicated to students will not only help to mitigate the issues faced by students but will help to establish a benchmark for future off-campus options within the region.”
Aryze’s concept partly stems from discussions with the operators of local start-up Sanpra, an organization that assists international students with finding housing in Victoria. Sanpra helps its clients overcome the challenges of securing rental housing in one of Canada’s tightest rental markets.
“Feedback from Sanpra was also instrumental in pursuance of this model,” Abrahams said. “To ensure a smooth relocation, international students are connected through various channels prior to the start of the school year. These students look to secure accommodation together to help foster a safe community and a focused environment for education.”
The purpose-built pod concept is an emerging trend, according to Abrahams, and will expand on an informal shared housing industry that is well established among rented houses and apartments throughout the Capital.
“Demand for shared accommodation is high within the region due to the current rental rates which are unaffordable to many students and professionals entering the workforce,” Abraham said. “Pod-style accommodation or other forms of shared housing is a trend we see only increasing in demand.”
And to that end, Aryze is not the only developer pursuing this concept.
Vancouver-based Townline, seeking approvals for a 15-storey rental tower along the 900-block of Pandora Avenue at Vancouver Street, has envisioned a collection of co-housing residences spanning as many as five-bedrooms. The concept is similar to Aryze’s, although the rental tower will feature both student-targeted pod layouts and general market rental suites with traditional floorplans.
Townline’s proposal will include 54 co-housing units among its 121-unit total. C
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