Photo: Sophia Hsin. Text: MONTECRISTO Magazine

Vancouver, like many cities, is best discovered by foot. Wandering through neighbourhoods results in the unearthing of beautiful and charming architectural gems, from the rickety homes of Strathcona, to the heritage houses of Mount Pleasant, to the grand mansions of Shaughnessy (this illustrated guide lists some other very notable landmarks). Perhaps no structure is more famous than the Vancouver Special, which has its roots in the 1970s as an affordable answer to the city’s blossoming density. Whether loved or hated, it remains a local legacy for its boxy shape and ubiquitous presence.

But there are new home concepts taking shape here, too, from the woodsy prefabricated cabins of Backcountry Hut Company to the stackable and contemporary shipping container laneway houses of Honomobo. Of course, what’s inside counts too, and for that, Vancouver has many craftsmen and creatives who are leading the charge. Consider the handcrafted chairs of Jarvis Furniture (a company founded by a licensed mechanical engineer), or the Japan-inspired store SORT curated by local design studio Faculty—the city is brimming with stories to tell. World-renowned lighting design firm Bocci is headquartered here, with the incredibly inspiring office to prove it; and Calgary architecture and interiors firm McKinley Burkhart has recently adopted Vancouver as its second home, sure to soon start making a local splash.

At night, the streets of downtown come alive with neon signs—bask in the glow of their bright colours and count them like lucky stars.