Set in the Coast Mountains of western Canada, Whistler Ski House is a family retreat built to withstand the harsh mountain environment. Elevated ten feet above grade, the main level provides a sense of occupying the tree canopy while also floating above snowdrifts and flood prone lake shore.
Due to the nature of the deep soft soil on the lake shore and the home’s location in a high seismic risk zone, the house is supported on a continuous 2-foot thick raft slab on densified soil, created by a series of vibro-densified rock columns that extend 60 to 68 feet deep into the ground. The raft slab “floats” on the densified soil which allows the house to remain stationary during a seismic event that would cause un-densified soil to slide into the lake.
A custom designed horizontal shutter system creates privacy and also protects upholstery and art from harsh snow glare. With simple crank and switch controls the façade can transform from glass clad to semi-exposed with raw-edged Douglas fir louvers, to completely protected with weathered steel.
The house is designed as two separate structures connected by an 80-foot-long glass-walled bridge. The larger of the wings contains the living and dining area, master bedroom, and two guest rooms. The smaller wing, or kids’ wing, has four rooms furnished with enough beds to accommodate the family’s children, their friends and leaves room for future grandchildren.
A large two-sided board-formed concrete fireplace with custom enclosure doors separates the main living and dining space from a more intimate media room. The sliding fireplace doors allow the owner to tune the size of the fireplace opening in the smaller setting of the media room. The ground level includes a garage, screened terrace and ski room.
The bridge not only creates privacy between the two wings but also weaves through a grouping of evergreens. By spreading out the house across the site trees were preserved but views were also maximized. On one side the floor-to-ceiling windows overlook a mountain lake stretching across the foot of the property; on the other side is a forest of firs, hemlocks and aspens.
Project Team: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal; Steve Grim, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, Project Manager/Architect; Alivia Owens, LEED® AP, and Evan Harlan, Architectural Staff
Key Consultants: Dowbuilt, General Contractor; W.T. Leung Architects, Inc., Associate Architect; CJ Anderson Civil Engineering, Inc., Civil Engineer; Fast+Epp, Structural Engineer; WSP Flack + Kurtz, Lighting, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer; Spearhead, Digital Design Assist; exp Services Inc., Geotechnical Engineer; Turner Exhibits, Gizmo Engineering and Fabrication
Craftspeople: Turner Exhibits (gizmos); 12th Avenue Iron (fireplace doors); Dynamic Windows (steel window frames); Spearhead (stained douglas fir); Woodstreams (custom dining table designed by Tom Kundig/Van Sickle Design); Cassina (dining chairs designed by Mario Bellini); David Weeks Studio (chandelier); 1920 R (stools designed by Franco & Matteo Origoni) Fritz Hansen (special addition chair designed by Arne Jacobsen); Baker Furniture Company (Finn Juhl designed arm chairs); WF Floors (Nepalese natural wool carpet designed by Van Sickle Design); Living Divani (manufacturer of Piero Lissoni designed sofa); Van Sickle Design (custom coffee table & bench); Promemoria (long coffee table); Artimede (table lamp designed by Issey Miyake); Roche Bobois (Hans Hopfer designed sofa, upholstery by Jean Paul Gaultier and end chairs designed by Marceloa Ziliani)