&Daughters Architects

Founded in 2017, &Daughters is a multi-disciplinary architectural design studio focusing on custom commercial and residential projects. I recently had to opportunity to sit down with founding partners; Emma Sims and Darcy Hanna to discuss how they established the firm, their process and design practice in general.


1) Emma and Darcy, Could you please introduce yourselves and give us a little summary about &Daughters.

We are a small studio, comprised of the founding members, Emma Sims and Darcy Hanna. We met doing our Master of Architecture at the University of British Columbia. We have been sources of support, constructive criticism and inspiration ever since. We ended up doing a number of studios, a design build in Naramata and our thesis projects side by side and developed a strong connection and sense of trust in design work. After school, we gained experience in different parts of the industry. Darcy worked for a firm that focuses on custom single family homes and learned a great deal about the architecture of houses, the fundamentals of a good floor plan and elevation, navigating the authorities, coordinating with project consultants and construction. Emma worked for studios focused on commercial design with expertise in restaurants and retail spaces, learning about how to weave a brand story into an architectural space, juggling the needs of various stakeholders, negotiating budgets and timelines as well as collaborating with a range of other consultants. 

When we made the decision to start the studio, we were excited about the cross section of design experience we had between us. Our work has turned out to be a mix of both of those backgrounds. The work we do as a studio includes new single family homes, residential interior design, major renovations and commercial interior design for hospitality and retail spaces.


2) We take huge pride in the beautiful city that we live in. What role does Vancouver and the Pacific North West play into your work? What are you currently working on?

Vancouver and the entire west coast has a strong tradition of modern architecture. We continue to learn from local masters like Dan White, Ron Thom, Fred Hollingsworth, Barry Downs and Cornelia Oberlander. Marrying the site and the context of our climate, as well as building materiality to the needs of the client are always at the forefront of our work. 

At the moment we’re working on a restoration to a one-hundred-year-old barn in the countryside north of Toronto, a new location for a beloved local bakery and coffee shop, and a new house which is inspired by the craftsman movement of the 20s and 30s. We just finished an eye wear store in Toronto that opened in early January and we have a few residential projects in Vancouver and North Vancouver that are completing right now and that we hope to share soon.


3) You speak about connecting with clients that are the right ‘fit’ for you? Could you please elaborate on this?

Building a house or investing in the physical space of your business is probably the most expensive and stressful endeavours one can take on. We like to look at potential projects like a Venn diagram, in which we are negotiating schedule, budget and quality. We can deliver a quality project on a tight budget, but only with enough time. Likewise, we can deliver a quality project on a short schedule, but not without a healthy budget. It is important that clients understand the limitations of each approach so that we can manage expectations and have fun together. For this reason, trust between us and the client is paramount to the success of a project and if we feel that it isn’t there, the project probably isn’t a good fit for our studio. 


4) Your process, Darcy you gave a great summary of your process. If possible could you give the readers a brief summary your process?

We begin by working on the most fundamental elements of the project: a generative idea or parti upon which we can examine the site, develop a floor plan, and review the technical, legal and budgetary restrictions. We encourage clients to explore this stage in detail as it establishes a strong foundation from which everything else derives.

Next we enter a phase of work in which we develop the space three dimensionally and through a series of meetings, we explore a more and more detailed design. This culminates in a model that is a pretty complete reflection of the project. The framing and enclosures, materiality, millwork, lighting, furniture and even small connection details are included and scrutinized. 

All of this work is then distilled into a set of drawings and specifications that are submitted to the authorities for permit consideration and to the builder for pricing and construction. During construction we continue to play an active role, reviewing site work and shop drawings at critical moments and trouble shooting changes that might be required.


5) How would you define a ‘modern home’? 

Homes have almost always been a reflection of both resources, socio-political systems and technology. For example, pre-modern homes were largely centred around the division of the serving class and the served, systems for heating and cooling and having particular rooms that reflected ones interests and wealth. Modern homes transformed into places that reflected the fact that fewer people had servants, that the woman of the house used her own kitchen and ran her own house and technological advances which allowed larger, open spans. 

Thinking about all of this in the context of today, I think one must think of a modern home as a place that attempts to reconcile some of these issues and challenges for us today. A home that supports more than one working person, a home that supports people working from home. A home that attempts to be both socially and environmentally responsible.



For an in depth look into &daughers and some of their recent projects please visit: