Gambier Island House
Architects & Firms
Gambier Island, BC
Site size: 317,535 square feet
Project size: 1,700 square feet
A young Vancouver couple desired a weekend retreat for themselves and their two children on the rugged coast of British Columbia.
The site was critical in shaping the house's design and construction. Situated within a protected forest and next to its own waterfront, its remoteness promised tranquility but demanded environmental sensitivity in its construction strategy.
Solution: The principal in charge of the project, Steve McFarlane, based in North Vancouver, sought a modern take on the classic 'cabin in the woods' by balancing picturesque roughness with a modern aesthetic.
Thanks to an almost entirely glass envelope that clads the house's two perpendicularly stacked rectangular volumes, the ochre hue of the Douglas fir interiors is easily visible from the water. The two volumes contain kitchen and living spaces below and three bedrooms above, all of which are linked by a central stair. The floor-to-ceiling glazing and extensive patios permit the family's constant and effortless connection to the surrounding fir forest and majestic Howe Sound.
Minimal concrete footings and slender steel columns below the house reduce the presence of the foundation and its impact upon the landscape. Resting upon these columns is a hybrid steel and composite wood structural system. Most of the system is concealed, either within wall sections or behind exterior metal cladding, though steel columns occasionally punctuate interior spaces. The house's heat and electrical power is entirely independent from the mainland. This is accomplished though a propane furnace that charges a generator and large battery system. The system, which already includes a small solar panel, is designed to accommodate additional wind and solar power sources in the future.
To preserve that landscape, most of the house was prefabricated on the mainland and assembled on site.
15b Chesterfield Place
North Vancouver, BC
V7M 3K3, Canada
T 604 986 9924
F 604 986 9932
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