The client impressed on us the need for a simple and comfortable view-focused home that he would not have to fuss about to live in. In other words, he wanted a beach house, a place where it’s perfectly fine to “always have a shell in your pocket and sand between your toes.”
The idea was to renovate all the complex spaces already existing on the original side of the house, and to add a simple extension that featured large but uncomplicated rooms. Indeed, that’s just what the architects accomplished. The original building, a split-level and rather narrow, continues to house the kitchen, laundry room, staircases and most bathrooms, while the addition offers an easygoing counterpoint—five wide rooms and one bathroom with a focus north to the Pacific Ocean and North Shore Mountains.
On the street-side, Beach House worked to incorporate public amenity spaces, the architects taking the host site and existing structure and designing with the City of Vancouver’s Seaside Greenway initiative in mind. The resulting landscape and form integrate with the boulevard, an example that remediation projects can have impacts beyond their own need sets. On the foreshore, the architects collaborated with a landscape architect on a new Cor-Ten foundation wall to replace the previously unstable embankment, a visually stimulating solution to the ubiquitous concrete wall of most residences along the shoreline. Working with the Department of Fisheries & Oceans, the foreshore design has encouraged the collection of sand working to re-wild the ecosystem.
The architects designed the renovation to maximize airflow; on a hot summer day, the client can open the north and south windows as well as the skylight to breezily cool the entire 5,600 sq-ft space without need for air conditioning. Beach House is further equipped for climate change through a second mechanical room on the main level. The architects designed this system as a backup to keep the home running in case of a 100-year flood, the system able to run with solar panels and a battery pack. The existing envelope was also updated to be mindful of salination effects from the ocean breeze. And because we were able to renovate rather than demolish, we kept 75% of the existing building from a landfill.
To delineate old from new, the architects held back the cladding on the water elevation to express the structure of the steel columns while also alluding to the history of the site. The reference continues inside with the decision to keep the (previously exterior) east wall as a featured piece. Tongue and groove Western Red Cedar runs along its entire length both on the main and bottom levels, a deft transition from the outside in. The client brought a pragmatic approach to finishes and materials, one which allowed the architects to maintain a simple yet durable palette. Focus was placed on concrete—floors, hearth, countertops—plus whitewashed oak cabinetry, curtain wall glazing and cedar and metal cladding.
This project was an exercise in future planning, both through the exterior landscape and hardscape initiatives as well as the internal renovation and addition components. The entire house can now breathe. It’s casual yet sophisticated, comfortable yet elegant, open to light and views and of course, the beach. The paddleboards are laying at the end of the yard, by the edge of the ocean, just waiting for a bit of wind and their turn.
Measured Architecture is a Vancouver-based studio practice focused on modern design, interiors and landscapes. From our inception in 2007, we have delivered exceptional public and private environments that are stimulating to occupy and fundamental to their surroundings. Founding principal Clinton Cuddington was joined by Piers Cunnington in 2009. Since that time, Measured has created a portfolio of work that demonstrates an ability to craft considered, innovative and quality projects.
We practice situational modernism — a subject-based, humanist approach that considers a project through the aspirations of a client, the opportunities of a site and the constraints of a municipality, budget and schedule. We work to understand these need sets and move forward to create ideal spaces based on these criteria. Thoughtfulness and flow permeate our firm’s designs, as projects shape into backdrops for our clients that are at once functional and aesthetic.