Gambier Retreat

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BattersbyHowat architects defeated all odds when they designed this house on a tricky site.

Some of the most beautiful locales aren’t the easiest to build on. For their latest project, architect David Battersby and Heather Howat were tasked with perching a 3,500-square-foot vacation house on a steep, remote site overlooking British Columbia’s Center Bay. In fact, it was so out of the way that they had to ship the materials in on the largest barge they could rent, helicoptering the house’s structural beams in place. “It was a harrowing experience,” Howat says.

Modern home with Exterior, Cabin Building Type, Shed RoofLine, Wood Siding Material, and House Building Type. The site needed a path that would let residents easily ascend from the bank to the house. The architects created one by simply replicating the way they had naturally walked up the site the first time they visited. The result is a meandering trail that directs visitors to the landscape’s different features — whether a majestic Arbutus tree, a private stone beach, or a wildflower clearing. Photo  of Gambier RetreatView Photos

The site needed a path that would let residents easily ascend from the bank to the house. The architects created one by simply replicating the way they had naturally walked up the site the first time they visited. The result is a meandering trail that directs visitors to the landscape’s different features — whether a majestic Arbutus tree, a private stone beach, or a wildflower clearing.

Modern home with Exterior, Cabin Building Type, and Wood Siding Material. The house cantilevers out over the landscape for unimpeded views. “It’s canted wall defines the main entrance and creates a covered space for unpacking and packing—a familiar family ritual,” Howat says. Photo  of Gambier RetreatView Photos

The house cantilevers out over the landscape for unimpeded views. “It’s canted wall defines the main entrance and creates a covered space for unpacking and packing—a familiar family ritual,” Howat says.

The exterior materials reflect the surrounding environment. Vertical, stained cedar siding, installed in a random pattern, echoes the dark bark of nearby douglas firs, while horizontal, clear-stained red cedar siding similarly recalls the lighter trees. The metal roof and aluminum curtain windows add a modern edge. Photo  of Gambier Retreat modern homeView Photos

The exterior materials reflect the surrounding environment. Vertical, stained cedar siding, installed in a random pattern, echoes the dark bark of nearby douglas firs, while horizontal, clear-stained red cedar siding similarly recalls the lighter trees. The metal roof and aluminum curtain windows add a modern edge.

Modern home with Living Room and Sofa. In the living room, a Minotti Held lounge and ottoman center around a Rumford fireplace with a custom metal surround. Fir millwork warms the space. Photo  of Gambier RetreatView Photos

In the living room, a Minotti Held lounge and ottoman center around a Rumford fireplace with a custom metal surround. Fir millwork warms the space.

Modern home with Kitchen. In the dining area, Emeco Navy chairs tuck into a custom fir table with metal legs. Lapalma Thin bar stools offer extra seating around the kitchen counter. Appliances include a Wolf propane range, integrated Subzero fridge, and Miele dishwasher. Photo  of Gambier RetreatView Photos

In the dining area, Emeco Navy chairs tuck into a custom fir table with metal legs. Lapalma Thin bar stools offer extra seating around the kitchen counter. Appliances include a Wolf propane range, integrated Subzero fridge, and Miele dishwasher.

Modern home with Kitchen and Wood Cabinet. Light streams in through the kitchen from massive, floor-to-ceiling windows that offer peaceful views of the outside foliage. Photo  of Gambier RetreatView Photos

Light streams in through the kitchen from massive, floor-to-ceiling windows that offer peaceful views of the outside foliage.

The switchback path continues inside, leading up the stairwell alongside a central concrete wall and then curving around to the bedrooms. Photo  of Gambier Retreat modern homeView Photos

The switchback path continues inside, leading up the stairwell alongside a central concrete wall and then curving around to the bedrooms.

Modern home with Bedroom and Bed. The path stops at the master bedroom, where a completely glazed end wall frames the wildflower clearing. “This pathway purposefully links together the architecture of internal rooms and outdoor spaces with discoveries of the site’s varied landscape,” the architects say. Photo  of Gambier RetreatView Photos

The path stops at the master bedroom, where a completely glazed end wall frames the wildflower clearing. “This pathway purposefully links together the architecture of internal rooms and outdoor spaces with discoveries of the site’s varied landscape,” the architects say.

Modern home with Bath Room and Freestanding Tub. The bathroom was similarly designed to make the most of exterior views. Photo  of Gambier RetreatView Photos

The bathroom was similarly designed to make the most of exterior views.

Canvas Butterfly chairs on the outside porch offer a place to chat into the late night hours. Photo  of Gambier Retreat modern homeView Photos

Canvas Butterfly chairs on the outside porch offer a place to chat into the late night hours.