Located on a rocky outcropping on sparsely-populated Gambier Island, this elegant glass-faced house serves as the perfect secluded place to rest within easy traveling distance to the Canadian cultural and commercial center of Vancouver. Designed by that city’s McFarlane Green Biggar Architecture (which has since split into two separate firms), this two-bedroom dwelling has the privacy and beauty of a vacation cottage, but all the amenities and comfort of a year-round home. Far from neighboring residences, the building sets nestled among the trees, overlooking the sound around it while standing out for its own man-made beauty. Because of the elevation changes of the rocky property, the house takes on a staggered layout indoors, with half-story staircases leading between various rooms. Wood is incorporated smoothly into the decor of the whole house, covering floors and ceilings with natural tones. With such a pretty and remote location, the house features a focus on the water’s edge, with full glass walls at that side on both stories.
Because of its remote location, the design of the house is nearly unconstrained by privacy concerns. This has lead the architects to create glass-walled bedrooms and hallways which otherwise might be obscured in some way if there were other homes in the immediate vicinity. The house sits high atop a rocky outcropping next to the lake, with commanding views of water and woods.
The house’s top level has a wide facade which runs parallel to the water’s edge, and a deck extending from its center on the rooftop of the level below it. This floor contains the dwelling’s two bedrooms, with a public passageway at the center allowing the homeowners to bring guests out to the deck without disturbing any private spaces on either side.
In addition to the glass window walls at lakeside edges, the abode also features glass deck railings as a means to keep occupants of the deck safe without blocking the view outward from indoors. In each room, a set of thin columns provides the structure to hold the roof up and allow for window walls instead of traditional exterior materials.
On the level below, the house’s main living space is focused on a single long room combining living, kitchen, and dining spaces. Both the floors and ceilings of the house are covered in slightly different wood finishes, while the walls are kept minimally white. This combination of materials combines a minimal aesthetic with a contemporary connection to nature.
Most built-in pieces of the room use smooth, modern surfaces. Both the kitchen and fireplace utilize a neutral medium grey hue to set them apart without drawing too much attention.
Moving back through the home, the grey tones of the countertops help to transition to a wide set of stairs leading to the home’s entrance and upstairs. Because of the unique geography of the lot and the desire to avoid building into the landscape, the building almost takes on a split-level layout.
Accessed from outside by way of a winding boardwalk, the main entry of the home towers two full stories tall and provides direct access to both major levels of living space. Even here, the ceiling is finished in wood.
Up above, the two bedrooms of the house occupy commanding positions at each lakeside corner. This room is presumably the master, due to its stunning view and full set of wraparound windows.
The top floor exhibits a rough form of architectural symmetry, With storage spaces lining the hallway between the two bedrooms and a spacious private area on each end. Both rooms boast equal access to the top deck as well during good weather.
On this side, the rock rise away from the home, partially obscuring the view outward. Still, a glance to the left would reveal the full beauty of the lake and woods.
McFarlane Green Biggar Architecture