Allison Holden-Pope’s career in architecture and design began by happy accident. “In high school, I intended to sign up for a photography class as an elective,” she explains, “but I entered the code wrong and ended up in a drafting course.” While she wasn’t too hot on the more technical aspects of the class, an end-of-term floor-plan design project fired up her love of architecture.
After earning her master’s in architecture from McGill University, Holden-Pope scored a job at an integrated firm in B.C., where architects, interior designers and engineers worked together. To her, the incorporation made perfect sense. “I knew that when I started my own practice, I wanted to work with architecture and interior design holistically,” says our winner of the Robert Ledingham Memorial Award for an emerging interior designer. “Pulling it together cohesively seemed like a no-brainer.”
One Seed Architecture and Interiors' Allison Holden-Pope
For a “no-brainer,” her work is very thoughtful. One Seed Architecture and Interiors creates unique residential spaces with intentional, functional details. Judge and interior designer Michelle Biggar, principal at Office of McFarlane Biggar, calls the Vancouver-based firm’s work “strong technically, with solid space planning and great integration with architecture.” That integration is clear once you step inside—then outside, then inside again—her Third Chapter House on the North Shore. An angled feature wall clad in hemlock runs from the address numbers straight into the living room. Hidden panels provide closet space without clutter. “It’s pragmatic as well as visual,” says Holden-Pope.
The floating staircase in One Seed’s Multigenerational Vancouver Special also mixes pretty and practical. Fitting two families into one home required some smart thinking, space-wise, and the Japanese-inspired wood-slat screen has a built-in bench to compact the dining area. The multidisciplinary firm makes a big impact in the little things, too—like their West End Nest Condo renovation, which features a custom timber coffee table CNC-cut with an abstracted map of Montreal (where the homeowners met). “We only take a few projects on at a time, so we can dedicate ourselves to providing our clients, and the design, with the attention they really need,” says Holden-Pope.
For the Multigenerational Vancouver Special shown here, the renovation accommodates the homeowners and their kids, and features a separate suite for their aging parents.
Like with its architecture and design work, One Seed has a holistic approach to sustainability. That means its six—and counting—Passive Houses don’t just focus on the energy-saving strategies the form of construction is known for, but also on using materials that are locally sourced and renewable, and that tread lightly on the environment. “Materials are what bring the life to a project,” says Holden-Pope. “The finishes, the contrast, the unique characteristics, how they play together and change when paired... that’s where I think there is a real richness.”
She also notes how materials are tied, consciously or subconsciously, to moments in life. A special hue, wallpaper or wood finish can make all the difference. “It’s not just about how they will use the space,” says Holden-Pope, “but about what brings them joy—the places they’ve travelled, childhood experiences, the things that bring them a sense of comfort and of home.”
The homeowners’ suite in the Multigenerational house is an oasis that includes a large bedroom, walk-through closets ending at a built-in makeup table that spans a full-height window, seen here.
The ensuite is bathed in light and features barnboard tiles.
A work space is punctuated by a mid-century inspired geometric wall covering.
Holden’s Third Chapter House features an angled accent wall clad in vertical hemlock, running from the front door to the living room, creating a sense of openness as you enter the house and move through the living room to connect with the dramatic views beyond. (It also provides hidden closet space.)
The selection of architectural materials was influenced by the natural palette of the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic.