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Location: Canmore, Alberta

Project Size: 3,500 square feet

Program: Hillclimb is a primary residence for a Tasmanian couple who were drawn to the mountain community of Canmore, Alberta, for its dramatic landscape. Avid climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, the clients were interested in a home that maximized their connection to nature and maintained as much of the site’s existing topography and vegetation as possible.

Design Solution: The 3,500-square-foot house is organized into two volumes—a main living pavilion (consisting of a primary bedroom suite and an open kitchen, dining, and living area) and a garage with a second-level guestroom and studio. The former floats above a bluff and the latter rests at the base of the site’s slope. The two volumes are connected by an enclosed bridge with a planted roof, making the experience of walking from one part of the house to the other a journey through the site itself.

The house’s lower volume sits behind a veil of trees in an existing clearing. The guest suite and study on the second level offer at-home workspace as well as privacy to visiting friends and family. Below-grade coal seams on the site necessitated manual excavation—as a result, the design minimizes traditional foundations, with the main living pavilion, above, supported by delicate steel columns pinned to bedrock.

The house gently steps up the slope to take advantage of panoramic views. The enclosed bridge that spans the second-floor guest area with a stairway up to the main living pavilion was carefully sited to avoid disturbing existing trees, and floor-to-ceiling windows along one side provide a moment of quiet respite with nature. At the top of the bluff, the wood-lined main living pavilion opens to breathtaking views of nearby mountain peaks. This uppermost volume contains the primary bedroom suite in addition to an open kitchen, dining, and living area overlooking the Bow River Valley.

Structure and Materials: Responding to a rugged environment with harsh winters, the architects used triple-glazed windows, designed a high-performance building envelope, and specified durable, natural materials that will patina over time. Dark-stained cedar siding and slate-toned fiber cement panels allow the house to fit discreetly within its environment. Deep eaves shield interiors from direct sun and snow without blocking natural light. Exposed, laminated spruce beams and structural steel columns complement airy white-oak floors and custom casework, while colorful furniture and artwork provide vibrant accents.

Additional Information
Completion date: August, 2021
Site size in acres: 0.32 acres
Total construction cost: Withheld
Interior staircase.


Exterior balcony view.


Photos © Nic Lehoux

Floor Plans.

Floor plans. Images courtesy the firm

Section Perspective.

Section perspective. Images courtesy the firm


Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, in association with Miller Mottola Calabro Architects
1932 1st Ave, #916
Seattle, WA 98101
Office: (206) 256-0862

Design Team:
Principal-in-Charge: Ray Calabro
Project Manager: Kyle Phillips
Project Architect: Adam Pazan
Justin Smith
Harris Hidayat
Mads Poulsen

Interior Designer:
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Structural Engineer: ISL Engineering
Geotechnical Engineer: McIntosh Lalani
Soils Mitigation Engineer: Envirotech

Surveyor: McElhanney
Energy Model: 4 Elements

General Contractor:
Stonewater Homes

Nic Lehoux


Structural System
Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project:Laminated wood beams provided by Woodpecker European Timber Framing Structural steel provided by Seebe, Inc.

Exterior Cladding
Masonry: Cast-in-place board-formed concrete
Rainscreen: Fiber cement panels by Equitone
Wood: Western red cedar
Moisture barrier: Typar
Other cladding unique to this project: McNichols Perforated Metal

Built-up roofing: Sarnafil
Metal: Standing-seam metal roof by Cascadia Metals
Planted roof membrane: Sarnafil
Planted roof assembly: Soprema

Wood frame: Jösko metal clad spruce window system

Glass: Glaströsch triple glazing with low e coating

Entrances: Jösko metal clad wood door system
Sliding doors: Jösko metal clad wood door system

Locksets: Jösko, Emtek
Other special hardware: Hafele

Interior Finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: BEC Woodcraft
Paneling: BEC Woodcraft
Special interior finishes unique to this project: Stuv fireplaces; Boen wood flooring; Arakawa art hanging system

Interior ambient lighting: Finerie pot lights
Downlights: WAC; Tech; Lotus
Tasklighting: Klus; Sonneman
Dimming system or other lighting controls: Lutron Homeworks with Lutron Paladium keypads

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability: Rockwool insulation; Soprema Planted Roof System