Escape to the Rock

written by:
photos by:
November 10, 2010
Originally published in Live/Work

Off the coast of British Columbia—on a site accessible only by boat—a family of Vancouver urbanites commissioned a sustainable cabin for weekend getaways that feels a world away.

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  • 
  Perched over a cliff face, the hooded deck of the Gambier Residence reads like a ship’s prow over Howe Sound, the scenic waters near Vancouver.
    Perched over a cliff face, the hooded deck of the Gambier Residence reads like a ship’s prow over Howe Sound, the scenic waters near Vancouver.
  • 
  The facade is clad with beveled siding, stained dark to meld into the forest.
    The facade is clad with beveled siding, stained dark to meld into the forest.
  • 
  The architects designed every gesture of the home as a complement to the landscape, including the slot windows that frame views of the surrounding foliage and the walkway that follows the bedrock of the cliff.  Courtesy of Hasselblad H3D.
    The architects designed every gesture of the home as a complement to the landscape, including the slot windows that frame views of the surrounding foliage and the walkway that follows the bedrock of the cliff. Courtesy of Hasselblad H3D.
  • 
  Farther down on the site is a dock whose ramp is lowered by hand via weight-laden pulleys. The residence is accessible by private boat or water taxi only.
    Farther down on the site is a dock whose ramp is lowered by hand via weight-laden pulleys. The residence is accessible by private boat or water taxi only.
  • 
  Lam and her son Max prepare a snack together in the open-plan kitchen at the center of the house. The fir floor that covers the living space steps downward twice, creating a grade change that roughly follows the topology of the site. The ceiling is sheathed in untreated hemlock; the custom stools were designed by Brent Comber.
    Lam and her son Max prepare a snack together in the open-plan kitchen at the center of the house. The fir floor that covers the living space steps downward twice, creating a grade change that roughly follows the topology of the site. The ceiling is sheathed in untreated hemlock; the custom stools were designed by Brent Comber.
  • 
  The plan of the house revolves around a rocky outcropping lush with life that acts as the home’s central atrium. The granite was left intact in order to serve as the nucleus of the courtyard, and the walls of windows draw a wealth of natural daylight into the back of the building.
    The plan of the house revolves around a rocky outcropping lush with life that acts as the home’s central atrium. The granite was left intact in order to serve as the nucleus of the courtyard, and the walls of windows draw a wealth of natural daylight into the back of the building.
  • 
  Down on the cedar dock, the view of nearby Bowen Island generates a dramatic foreground view, while the British Columbia mainland in the distance appears to be 
a world away.
    Down on the cedar dock, the view of nearby Bowen Island generates a dramatic foreground view, while the British Columbia mainland in the distance appears to be 
a world away.
  • 
  The cantilevered main floor creates space for bracken fern and other indigenous 
vegetation to flourish.
    The cantilevered main floor creates space for bracken fern and other indigenous 
vegetation to flourish.
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