A Suburban Vancouver Home Edits its Privacy Settings
Only two slim strips of glass provide a glimpse into the interior of a dwelling in New Westminster, a suburb of Vancouver. The house, composed of concrete walls and cedar siding, was designed to keep prying eyes at bay. But the structure leaves an impression that is far from unwelcoming: Swaths of bright yellow paint, tucked into recesses along the facade, suggest a certain playfulness. "Enigmatic" is how architect David Battersby describes the home’s streetside appearance.
The home sits next to an elementary school, so the area gets busy in the afternoon and evening, says Grant, a hematopathologist. Limiting apertures along the north and west sides of the structure provided as much of a barrier as possible from the noisy schoolyard. In addition, the clients requested an L-shaped house, a layout that allows for a more intimate relationship with the backyard. "We could have built more economically on the site, but Grant and Todd were really focused on what they were getting out of the project qualitatively," Battersby says. "The plan isn’t the most efficient one, but the net benefit substantially outweighs a simple box."
The interiors feature simple finishes: white ash millwork, polished concrete flooring, and a cinderblock fireplace wall—a midcentury-inspired feature that the couple requested to distinguish between spaces. On one side of the wall, the living room leads directly to the garden. "If you’re sitting on the couch, all you see is the yard," Todd says.
Grant is an avid gardener (a passion he shares with Battersby, who donated plants from his own backyard for the clients’ lot), and the owners wanted to create a strong indoor/outdoor dynamic, taking advantage of their location in the suburbs. Says Grant: "We have a lot of house-garden interaction here that’s not possible in Vancouver."