Atop a rocky outcrop high above Alta Lake in Whistler, this private home is nested in the shape and contours of the landscape.
A small spike of the building perched high on a rock ledge overlooks the steeply ascending mountainous drive to the property. At the road’s peak, a narrow drive is carved through solid rock to arrive at a court flanked by rugged stone and a sleek metal wall. Here a shimmering blue, glass passageway opens to a verdant courtyard that serves as an oasis for outdoor gatherings and children’s play. It is rimmed on one side by a grove of aspen.
The courtyard oculi that puncture the manicured lawn of the courtyard each provide a function to the sub-terrarium spaces below. One allows light to fill the wine room and stair landing at the lower level. The center oculi is a fresh-air intake for the mechanical system, and the third oculi is an open-air cone that allows light and air down into the spa area below. Due to the shape of the oculi they were formed using Agilia concrete, a revolutionary new concrete technology. It is a self-consolidating concrete that is easily placed and eliminates the need for excessive vibration due to its fluid and stable properties.
Geothermal wells are buried in the earth as the surrounding building reaches out over the edge of the site. An arced blade of roof supported by slender stainless steel columns encircles the remaining courtyard as the crystalline building occupies the threshold between the manicured court and pristine wilderness. The courtyard roofing system was designed with the challenges of the harsh Whistler climate in mind. The stainless steel ‘knife edge’ roof system aesthetically thins the roof edge while providing a stout durable surface to resist the weight and corrosion of snow.
The columns and window system are also a direct response to the environment as the material is corrosion resistant and extremely durable. To maximize the view, the window system has extremely narrow mullion (1 7/16” wide). Capoferri, the window manufacturer, utilizes a carbon fiber thermal break to achieve the thin mullion size while maintaining the structural integrity of the system.
A heavy bronze door marks the entry to the house where the peaks of the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are first seen. The stair was required for the utilitarian need to ascend to the top level of the home but the cable-suspended wood ribbon execution elevates it to functional art. The position of the stair permits it to be experience from the interior and exterior.
The three-story boxes are lined with reclaimed wind fall Douglas fir and have large expanses of glass, each revealing a distinct view: the Whistler Valley and resort as well as the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Terraces and cantilevered porches visually extend spaces into the landscape.
Nestled into a grotto, a spa anchors the 25-meter pool, which slices through and cantilevers over the edge of a rocky precipice intently reaching to the distant horizon.
The building evolved into an inevitable form on this site inspired by the owners’ desire for a seamless connection to the natural world. The construction is detailed to assimilate the outcroppings and crevices of the rocky terrain and in turn revere them.
CityWhistler, British Columbia, Canada
Gross Floor Area (mq)1115
ArchitectsBohlin Cywinski Jackson
Design teamPeter Bohlin FAIA, Robert Miller FAIA, David Miller AIA, David Guthrie, Adrienne James, Niklas Koenig, Emma Nowinski, Terrence Wagner
Main ContractorDurfeld Construction
ConsultantsFast + Epp (Structural Engineer), Brian Hood Lighting Design (Lighting Design), GroundLink Systems (Geothermal and Mechanical Design), Spark Electric (Electrical Design), Wide Open Welding (Structural Steel), Alta Pool (Pool Consultant)
SuppliersCapoferri Serramenti (Windows, Glazing for Skylight, Doors)
Photo CreditsNic Lehoux, Bob Young
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is noted for elegant and humane design, ranging from modest houses to large academic, civic, cultural, commercial, and corporate buildings. Our principals and staff are deeply committed to active collaboration with our clients, emphasizing thorough research and analysis of each situation’s particular human, technical, and economic circumstances. The result is exceptional architecture that resonates within its place. Since 1965, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has received more than 625 regional, national, and international design awards, including three Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). We are also the recipients of the AIA Architecture Firm Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon an architectural practice by the Institute. In addition, our founding principal, Peter Bohlin, was awarded the AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor an individual American architect can receive.