Gambier Island GI08

  • Gambier Island
  • British Columbia
  • 2011

Explorations of this steeply sloped, wooded site overlooking a small private stone beach in Center Bay suggested a switchback organization of spaces where the slope has been extended and combined with the introduction of a meandering path that traverses the site. This pathway purposefully links together the architecture of internal rooms and outdoor spaces with discoveries of the site’s varied landscape.

One third of the space within the house, made up of guest rooms, an office and the main entrance, is located at the lower level adjacent to the base of a large rock embankment. The overhanging mass of the building and its canted wall define the main entrance and create a covered space for unpacking and packing – a familiar cabin ritual. A vertical strip of glazing at the entry and lower stair landing captures the full height of a lone arbutus tree.

Family spaces are on the upper level.  An internal stair rises up alongside a central concrete wall that extends the rock embankment into the house’s internal landscape. This wall supports cantilevered roof rafters which form a ridge centre over the stair hall.  Windows and sliding doors in the family areas upstairs open for ventilation and frame elements of the natural surrounds:  the expansive southwest water views, the foliage of an arbutus tree, the steep rock bluff adjacent to a terrace. The switchback path continues to the children’s bedrooms with intimate views of the rocky hillside, and arrives finally at the master bedroom, where a cantilevered glazed end wall frames the landscape of a moss and wildflower-covered clearing.