Battersby Howatt designs a Vancouver home in the middle of nature
This Vancouver home nods to Canadian west coast modernism
Battersby Howat Architects’ New Villa in Vancouver Combines Tranquil Luxury and Lush Landscapes
The Bonetti 2 Residence in West Vancouver was born when a longtime friend and business associate asked architects David Battersby and Heather Howat to design his new home in Vancouver. The duo not only seized the opportunity to create a contemporary family home that elegantly blends glamor and modesty, they also had the chance to design the home as a 21st century interpretation of West Coast modernism. Sympathetically linking the built and the natural, this stellar strand of mid-century architecture includes in its legacy the work of 20th-century masters such as Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Ron Thom and Arthur Erickson.
The living room, with open-plan interiors that further enhance the feeling of being surrounded by vegetation
The site, at a steep 45 degree slope overlooking a rail cut and ravine, was generous but not without its challenges. “We did the clients’ first home in West Vancouver, so this was our second attempt. They made us have a look at the site before buying it, because it was not at all obvious how one could possibly benefit from it. It was nothing more than a steep bank covered in brambles,” Battersby recalls. “Our immediate reaction was to use the house as a massive containment structure so that we could create a courtyard-like scenario between the roadside and the dwelling.” And that’s what they did, placing the house against the long side of the plot, allowing the creation of a structured garden in front of it, with various geometric terraced areas and walkways connecting the interior to the exterior. outside.
The sinking of the single-story structure below street level helped to isolate it from the surrounding houses, thereby ensuring privacy for residents. If strolling through the house gives you the feeling of being engulfed in greenery, it is thanks to the mastery of the architects and carefully edited perspectives that focus on the canopy and the garden. The architects refer to an affinity for nature that is best exemplified in the work of Erickson, one of Canada’s most important modernists, whose houses seemed intrinsically connected to their context. “We try to express a similar reverence,” says Battersby. “The architecture is relatively low-key, it’s more of a mechanism to connect with the natural world. The white recessed areas, with all the windows and doors, are literally and figuratively the thresholds between inside and outside , artifice and nature.
Light flows through the living room to the courtyard terrace and pool, while the black-clad facade makes the house less imposing
The piano nobile contains a sequence of connected living areas, as well as the master bedroom, while the lower level houses three further bedrooms. An L-shaped configuration allows the garage to sit at one end of the house, connected to the street by a sloping driveway. Linear volumes, clever openings that allow an abundance of natural light and a palette of refined materials make it a sophisticated and contemporary space. The result is a design appropriate for its owner, a developer who was looking not only for a family home, but also for a building that would showcase his business and his passion for design, art and architecture.
“House design is infinitely variable. It’s such a rewarding process,” says Battersby. “We want to do great design work that facilitates a connected feeling of being in the world. We believe this is more important than ever. Sometimes that means architecture needs to be a little quieter – not all houses need to scream “LOOK AT ME!” §
The master bedroom is located at the edge of the property, overlooking the ravine. Its impressive ceiling is covered with hemlock