What is an architect's dream home like? How would these experts develop and create one for themselves? This is precisely what Architect's Retreat is: a made-to-measure haven shaped by designers to suit their own requirements ‒ especially aesthetic ones.
Located in Vancouver, Canada, the Architect's Retreat was sold not long ago by West Coast Modern. These Canadian real-estate agents have been spotlighting quality architecture for some time: they showcase a home's unique features, also narrating its story, to conclude its sale (>>> the idea was explored in this article).
The house in question, built in 1958, has been occupied by three generations of architects and designers, each of which unfailingly and artfully updated its style, shaping it to incorporate the era's latest trends.
The Architect's Retreat sold recently for nearly $2.4 million and, going by the agents' website, this figure was 10% up on the asking price. A staggering sum when you consider that the original structure ‒ a 65m2 cedar-wood 'box' ‒ was constructed for $8,000, and was essentially a bedroom.
The house was conceived and built by Henry Yorke Mann, a contemporary of Ron Thom and Arthur Erickson. The property then changed hands 30 years later, when it was bought by the architect Peter Buchanan. He immediately began his renovation and extension works, which included adding two sections: these resulted in a floor space of 180 m2, with the main bedroom and an additional one, plus a basement level with two bedrooms. Basing his approach on Mann's original design, Buchanan explored a few of his own ideas (inspired by aerial and nautical projects) on this edifice, taking it to become one of the most iconic in Vancouver.
The present structure was built by reusing old construction materials, Buchanan explained to West Coast Modern. In fact, all the required fir was provided by a single old fir taken from Sea Schelt. At the time, this was a significant experiment in sustainable, environmentally friendly design. Anne and I lived in the house for 26 years and there we brought up our two children, Nevada and Max, until the time when we sold up and moved to Whistler in 2015.
Finding the right buyer was not an easy task for West Coast Modern, in that the property is of relatively compact dimensions and occupies a small site. In addition, that sum could buy a house of twice the size. The current owners ‒ the Noel family, designers from Vancouver ‒ opted to fully renovate the house while conserving its original atmosphere, and their project won them a North Vancouver 2018 Heritage Award.
Real Estate Operator: West Coast Modern
Original project by Henry Yorke Mann & Peter Buchanan
Project completion: 1958
Photography by Jesse Laver and Yan Timo, courtesy of WCM