Perched a scant three metres above the rippled, blue-glazed, yacht scattered waters of Oak Bay, this striking new home makes a sculptural statement with glass, cedar, stone and bold horizontal elements.
The owners call it a house of light, because it captures the dawn rays on the ocean side as well as late afternoon glow through a three-storey, glass-walled staircase on the other.
The three-level home has five bedrooms, 5 1/2 bathrooms and takes advantage of its spectacular location with 11-foot ceilings on the main and 10-foot upstairs. It is wrapped in glass and gains plenty of passive solar energy.
The home is loaded with high-end details, such as transom windows in the great room above a cantilever, cedar soffit that acts as a light shelf. It breaks up the continuous volume of glass above and below, and holds square pot lights for down lighting, LED strip lights for up-glow, and hidden automated blinds.
With two laundry rooms, one upstairs and another on the lowest level by the pool, where there is also a large media room with wet bar, microwave, wine fridge, dishwasher and drop ceiling, which hides LED lighting.
Because the home is open concept and lacks visible supports, it is braced by a tremendous amount of steel. “We have huge steel I-beams throughout and seven sheer walls with one-inch rebar in some,” said Chris. “And we had all kinds of engineers working on this house — structural, envelope, civil, acoustic — and a marine biologist for storm-water issues.”
Architect Peter de Hoog noted it was a complicated project, but a pleasure to work on as the owners had strong, clear ideas about their home’s expression.
“It ended up being fairly wide, to ensure all the rooms had views, and we had to deal with quite a bit of grade change from the street. The house is seen as two storeys from the road, and 2 1/2 from the water.”
He had to keep within exterior height limits and also conform to setback requirements regarding sea level rise. The home covers 7,400 square feet, not counting the garage, yet it doesn’t look imposing, because of the strong horizontal elements and exterior overhangs, which provide not only a stylish look, but also shade when the sun is highest in the summer months.
“Architecture is always about getting light in and controlling it,” said de Hoog. “Obviously, you can add lots of windows, but too much heat or glare is a problem. You don’t want people having to wear sunglasses inside.”