A Strikingly Modern Container House Boasts Breathtaking Views
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A Strikingly Modern Container House Boasts Breathtaking Views

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By Lucy Wang
Inspired by cargotecture, this boxy dwelling in West Vancouver features an efficient layout that makes the most of its hillside views.

With their three children grown and retirement on the horizon, the couple that hired design duo Matthew Mcleod and Lisa Bovell of local firm McLeod Bovell were ready for a "simplified" and efficient home with reduced reliance on stairs.

"When we initially heard the design brief from the clients, the analogy of ‘the shipping container’ struck us as a good starting point for designing a small house that operated in a very efficient way, providing all of the main living and sleeping functions on one floor," explain Matt and Lisa of the Container House, a two-story dwelling envisioned as two volumes stacked perpendicular to each other.

In contrast to their former house that had been set on a flat, densely wooded lot, the clients picked a steeply sloped West Vancouver property with sweeping panoramic views.

A small bridge connects the parking pad to the front entrance with a large pivot door. The home is primarily clad in Swiss Pearl exterior cement composite panels, Accoya timber, and painted metal panels on an open rain screen.

"Although planning guidelines would have allowed for a slightly larger house on three floors, it was decided that a scheme with only two levels—though smaller in size overall—would create a house with more generous interior volumes and greater architectural possibility."

Protected by a roof overhang, the sunken lounge in the rear of the home provides sweeping southeastern views of the city and fjord beyond.

Created for aging in place, the 3,350-square-foot Container House organizes the primary living areas—including the master bedroom and bath—on the upper level. Two addition bedrooms, an office, and recreation room are located downstairs and can also be reached via an elevator. The garage is set at a split-level between the two floors to further minimize vertical movement inside the home.

The L-shaped upper floor culminates in a dramatically cantilevered master bedroom wing that's elevated high above the roofs of the neighboring houses.

The cantilevered wing provides privacy by obscuring views into the yard.

"This strategy minimizes vertical travel within the house by eliminating one flight of stairs," explain the designers of their choice of a two-story design instead of one with three floors. "The impression is of a series of spaces which are expansive yet intimately connected horizontally and vertically."

The projecting volume also protects the pool from solar glare.

The swimming pool's dark tile finish mirrors the cantilevered container above it.

The property’s steep slope and narrow width proved challenging when creating indoor/outdoor living spaces. Forced to stack rooms behind one another, the architects maintained sight-lines using level changes. For example, the living room is located behind, and a few steps above, the dining area, which is placed behind the sunken lounge.

Elevated on an engineered hardwood floor, the living room is smartly furnished with a Flex Form "Beauty" sectional sofa, Minotti "Sullivan" coffee table, Kurva "The Bow Lamp," and a hand-woven wool rug by Paulig for Salari.

The Tadeo dining table by Walter Knoll is combined with Tokyo chairs by Bensen.

Walls of operable glass, covered outdoor living areas, and cantilevered forms further blur the line between indoor and outdoor living.

A dramatic outdoor linear fireplace continues from the dining area to the sunken lounge.

The outdoor lounge chairs and chaise are by Richard Schultz for Knoll.

A skylight pours an abundance of natural light into the master bath, which is outfitted with a Laufen bathtub.

The integrated sink/counter is also by Laufen. The plumbing fixtures are by Zuchetti.

Container House lower floor plan.

Container House upper floor plan.

Container House roof plan.

Container House section.

Project Credits:

Interior Design: McLeod Bovell Modern Houses / @mcleodbovell

Builder/ General Contractor: JBR Construction

Structural Engineer: Chui Hippman

Landscape Design: Botanica

Lighting Design: McLeod Bovell Modern Houses

Cabinetry: Munro Woodworking

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