Early discussions regarding an appropriate design response to the site, focused on the idea of estate houses and landscapes.
The site had two main peculiarities. The first was the overall size, at nearly one acre the property is a rarity in Vancouver. The second and crucially were the total lack of view corridors. The site was fully enclosed on three sides by heavily wooded adjacent gardens, large trees and hedgerows.
We took as our starting point the traditional idea of nature, wild and free at the site edges, becoming gradually more formalized as one approaches the house. Formal gardens are defined in proximity and devices such as Ha Ha’s are employed to keep the wilderness at bay. However, this being the wild west coast where nature is very much celebrated, we decided to flip the idea on its head.
Nature becomes up close and personal, the Estate becomes inverted. A more appropriate response to an introverted landscape where nature can be celebrated not at a romantic distance but close, in all it’s seasonal glory.
Using the device of the Ha Ha, we enclosed the house in a weathering steel moat. The moat keeps the formality of a carefully manicured lawn at a safe distance. With-in the moat nature is allowed to run riot. Native species are celebrated and utilized for bio-diversity. Internal open courtyards bring nature into the home and are gradually tamed as places that become frames for the clients art collection.
The formal elements of winding granite driveway, trimmed hedge enclosure, lawn and a planned grid of Trembling Aspen trees are all to be admired upon entering the property, however the whole experience only becomes apparent once the moat bridge is crossed. The relationship between house, landscape and nature, is re-defined for 21st Century living.