Architects: BattersbyHowat Architects
Location: Gambier Island, British Columbia, Canada
Project Team: David Battersby, Heather Howat, Tillie Kwan, Cindy Lee
Structural Consultant: Bevan-Pritchard Man
Photographs: Sama Jim Canzian
Explorations of this steeply sloped, wooded site overlooking a small private stone beach in Center Bay suggested a switchback organization of spaces where the slope has been extended and combined with a newly created meandering path that offers an introduction to the site. This pathway purposefully links together the architecture of internal rooms and outdoor spaces with discoveries of the site’s varied landscape features.
One third of the space within the house, made up of guest rooms, an office and the main entrance, is located at the lower level adjacent to the base of an existing one storey rock embankment. The overhanging mass of the building and its canted wall defines the main entrance and creates a covered space for unpacking and packing – a familiar cabin ritual associated with those important moments of arrival and departure.
A vertical strip of glazing at the entry and lower stair landing captures an extended view of a lone arbutus tree. Family spaces are located on the upper level. The internal stair rises up alongside a central concrete wall that extends the pre-existing rock embankment into the house’s internal landscape. This wall rises up to support cantilevering roof rafters which counter intuitively support the ridge that is centered over the hall leading to sleeping quarters along the back of the wall.
Windows and sliding doors in the upper communal family areas provide ventilation and frame the deck area with expansive southwest water views, the foliage of the adjacent arbutus tree, and a vista of a steep rock bluff adjacent to an outdoor terrace at grade.
Continuation along the switchback pathway leads gradually up to children’s bedrooms with intimate views into the rocky hillside and finally to the master bedroom with its glazed end wall and overhanging roof and walls framing the fragile landscape of a moss and wildflower covered clearing.