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Designing spectacular houses with expansive ocean views would seem like a simple challenge for most architects. Factor in that those residences would back onto a rock face, and the proposition becomes more exacting. This was the scenario for the creation of The Collection by BattersbyHowat, a grouping of 10 single-family homes that are part of the new mixed-density Uplands neighbourhood in West Vancouver being developed by British Pacific Properties (BPP).
The Uplands neighbourhood is a departure from the larger homes BPP has previously built in the area. As such, the developer decided on a shift in design esthetic for the whole project of the multi-family and detached homes.
“In creating this density, we were looking for a different style of housing and the natural one to select in West Vancouver was the West Coast Modern esthetic because that’s what West Vancouver was known for with the incredible architects that worked there — whether that’s Arthur Erickson or Ron Thom or some of the others,” explains Sue Rutledge, director of sales and marketing for British Pacific Properties.
Rutledge says they selected various architects to create this new West Coast Modern style for the project. For the 10-home, water view collection, they chose the award-winning firm of BattersbyHowat, adding the team was an obvious choice for BPP.
“They’re known for their West Coast minimal modern esthetic, but they have a real holistic approach because they’re specialists in not only architecture but in interior design and landscape architecture,” Rutledge says.
The culmination of that three-pronged approach created interiors that are an expression of a restrained yet sophisticated style, while the exteriors reflect an understanding of the immediate environment and the unique characteristics of the site.
“The houses are all each slightly turned and slightly reoriented; not every house has the same kind of viewpoint out to the vista across the water,” observes Heather Howat, partner at BattersbyHowat Architects along with David Battersby. “So it just created more variation instead of marching up the hillside where everything looked identical. That was important to us to create a little bit of visuality.”
As was the way the light would hit the houses, especially when being viewed from UBC across the Burrard Inlet. Howat says they wanted to vary that view for that time of day when the light hits all the windows facing the same view direction, which would otherwise create a bank of windows reflecting that light across the water.
Knowing that conventional backyards weren’t an option behind the residences due to the rock face, David Battersby created a courtyard terrace as a counterpoint to the outdoor spaces facing the ocean.
“At the back of the project because you’re pushed up behind the mountainside, now you’re at grade again, but you’re in this protected courtyard space,” Howat says, referencing that the main living level is on the second floor of the home. “It’s more of a terrace-type situation. That’s good because when it’s really sunny and hot out front, you have this shaded, protected spot at the back.”
Rutledge adds that Uplands’s concept is that the whole mountain is a backyard with its extensive trail network (thanks to 55 per cent of the neighbourhood devoted to green space) and the wide variety of outdoor activities. The homes’ interiors have been planned out over three floors with the garage, family room and bathroom on the ground floor, and the open-plan living space of the kitchen, dining and living rooms and powder room on the second level with unobstructed views of the ocean. The top floor has three bedrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms.
“There’s just kind of that awe, that moment when you come downstairs from your bedroom and your whole space is open to a pretty beautiful view, and it just feels quite private still because you’re up off the road level,” Howat says. She describes the feel of the living space level as quiet sophistication, reflected in the design’s simplicity and functionality and the choice of materials and finishes.
The kitchen, which backs onto a marble-clad wall at one side of the living space, is open to both the room and the sea views, while the fireplace on the other side of the space features a surround from the same Vancouver Island-quarried marble.
“The key was to create as much storage as we could but also keep the space feeling as open as possible,” Howat notes. “You basically have two work surfaces: the island and the back wall (counter). There’s some storage above. You can kind of personalize it a little bit with the open shelf area.”
The prospective homeowner can choose from three colour palettes for the finishes and materials: Frost, Mist and Vivid.
Howat describes Frost as the lightest of the palettes with white marble and lighter woods.
“That was just kind of our fresh, neutral take,” she says. “We called it Frost — so a little icier, a little bit more classic with a lot of white in the scheme just to keep things very lifted. In some way, that’s probably the most of-the-moment version or the most expected one. It’s just so neutral for people to imagine living in that.”
Mist, she says, offers more muted tones without a lot of contrast and leans toward grey hues — its inspiration arises from the grey tones we see in Vancouver during wintry, grey days.
Vivid, she adds, “was more about when you’re in a forest, and you come into a clearing — the contrast between light and dark.”
Just as nature inspired the colour palette for the interiors, it also influenced the exterior finishes, which are darker and quite muted to allow the structures to meld with the unique characteristics of the natural landscape — be it the water side or the rock face.
“The views are epic,” Howat states. “Let’s face it, when you’re up there, it is quite something, but I think having that immediate view as well as the back of the property. This is a unique site. Not a lot of sites have a hillside that you carve out to put your house against.”
Project: The Collection by BattersbyHowat
Project Address: 3261 Chippendale Road to 3299 Chippendale Road, Uplands, West Vancouver
Project Scope: A collection of 10, three to four-bedroom luxury homes that range from 3,699 to 3,865 square feet. Situated up above the Burrard Inlet, the elegantly appointed West Coast Modern residences boast unobstructed sea views and are designed for relaxed family living over three storeys.
Developers: British Pacific Properties
Architects: BattersbyHowat Architects
Sales centre: 3757 Cypress Bowl Road, West Vancouver
Sales centre hours: By appointment
Sales phone: 604-925-8002
Occupancy date: Beginning January 2024
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