Local Architect Susan Scott on Building Balsa Spitfires and a Better Vancouver

If you’ve refilled at The Soap Dispensary, made a purchase at Ai & Om Knives, gotten a sweet fix at Mister Ice Cream or enjoyed a meal at Torafuku, you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the work of Scott & Scott Architects.

Susan Scott is one-half of the local husband-and-wife architecture studio, which the pair established back in 2012 in the self-renovated storefront below their family home. Since then, Scott & Scott have racked up the awards, and Susan has kept busy lecturing across Canada and mentoring closer to home.

Scott & Scott’s current portfolio covers projects of all scales, always keeping in mind evolutionary improvement while honouring tradition and valuing technology over trendiness. We recently had a one-on-one chat with Susan to discuss design big and small, and life at large in Vancouver.

Local architects Susan and David Scott | Image: Scott & Scott

What is your neighbourhood and what makes it home? Main Street. We’ve lived here since 2002 and can’t walk more than a block or two without running into someone familiar (and I can buy milk and a new outfit within this same distance).

What’s your neighbourhood haunt? Liberty Bakery and Welk’s.

Your favourite space in Vancouver? Camosun Bog.

Your favourite space in nature? Cape Scott.

The Vancouver building that no longer exists that you miss the most? East Annex at City Hall.

Your favourite view in Vancouver? Looking east from Spanish Banks back towards the City at low, low tide.

Studio work for a Saanich Farm project by Scott & Scott Architects

What is your favourite thing about Vancouver? Love it all — rain, nature, restaurants, seawall, parks, beaches forests, mountains, doughnuts, people.

What three things do you want to change about Vancouver? More housing for all; more art galleries; and beer on the beach.

Which Vancouverite do you currently find most fascinating that you would like to know more about? Seth Rogen’s Mom.

What are you doing when you aren’t working? Walking, driving kids around, biking, hiking, eating, gardening, exploring.

Where do you go to be alone? Running.

Interior of Torafuku restaurant at 958 Main St.

How do you unwind? Weed our garden.

Tell me your design ethos in ten words or less. Simple, logical, beautiful, local, thoughtful, durable, lasting, clear, cozy, complete.

The architectural movement that you love the most? Sondergotik.

What was the first thing that you ever built? Balsa wood Spitfire airplane model.

The last thing that you broke? Cornishware mug while using an Aeropress coffee maker — beautiful split vertically down the centre.

The thing that you won’t hesitate to invest in/break the budget for? Our kids.

The thing that you collect? Blueberry bushes.

The last unexpected or unusual source of inspiration? Willow’s Inn on Lummi Island.

A North Vancouver home by Scott & Scott Architects

What attracts you to a project? Beautiful and challenging sites and people.

What is the first thing that you notice about a space? Smell.

How does being a woman influence your work, if at all? It takes hundreds of people to put a building together and the architect’s role is mainly communication. I may approach that role differently but feel the end result is the same regardless of my gender.

What is the most impractical thing that you own? An old red kettle with a ridiculously small spout.

What is the ugliest, utilitarian thing that you’ve ever (begrudgingly) owned? Espresso machine.

An everyday object that you would like to design? Exterior electrical outlet with integral flashing and a better frost-free hose bib.

A design trend that you wish would die? Not too concerned about any.

Your least favourite piece of technology? Anything with a AA battery.

Your favourite natural material to work with? Wood.

Your favourite synthetic material? Concrete.

A building material that you haven’t used yet but would like to? Nope, happy with what we’ve used so far.

A studio detail, from Scott & Scott Architects

Your most invaluable tool? iPhone.

A design challenge that you have yet to successfully tackle? Storage system for the archipelago of accumulating models in our studio.

The worst piece of advice that you’ve ever received? “Don’t apply for Architecture School; you need a better portfolio.”

The hardest lesson you’ve learned, thus far? David is usually right.

What has been the most challenging thing about working with your spouse, so far? Deciding who gets to pick up our kids.

What do you think makes a successful working relationship with a spouse? Sense of humour, patience, and fantastic staff!

What does David bring to the business that you don’t? Relentless patience.

How about the skill that you possess that he doesn’t? Climbing tall ladders.

What terrifies you most about the future? Wifi-enabled laundry machines.

What is the future of design/architecture in Vancouver? Better.

  • Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples, Vancouver
  • Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples, Vancouver
  • Scott and Scott Architects Mister Ice Cream
  • Scott and Scott Architects Mister Ice Cream
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects Alpine Cabin INTERIOR-LIVING copy
  • Scott and Scott Architects: Torafuku Modern Asian Eatery
  • Scott and Scott Architects Ai and Om Knives
  • Scott and Scott Architects Alpine Cabin-EXTERIOR-SIDE copy
  • Scott and Scott Architects- Lac Le Jeune Cabin 2 copy
  • Scott and Scott Architects- Maknming 5 copy
  • Scott and Scott Architects: North Vancouver House
  • Scott and Scott Architects Whistler Cabin
  • Scott and Scott Architects: North Vancouver House
  • Scott and Scott Architects- Studio work Saanich Farm 1 copy
  • Scott and Scott Architects Whistler Cabin
  • Scott and Scott Architects Whistler Cabin
  • Scott and Scott Architects Whistler Cabin
  • ScottandScottArchitects-Ai&OmKnives 4 copy
  • Scott and Scott Architects Whistler Cabin
  • ScottandScottArchitects-Ai&OmKnives 11 copy
  • Scott and Scott Architects: S&S Studio 3
  • Scott and Scott Architects: S&S Studio 4
  • Scott and Scott Architects: S&S Studio 8
  • Scott and Scott Architects: S&S Studio 9

There is 1 comment

  1. I note that their design ethos does not include one important word….. comfort. Trust me, that becomes increasingly important as you age. And is reflected in one’s restaurant choices.

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