The clients were looking for a house that would eventually become their full time residence but could also serve as a getaway, vacation and gathering place in the interim. Located at the south end of Desolation Sound on Cortes Island, British Columbia, the site is formed of natural granite bedrock and contains a dramatic peninsula and cliff which serve as a windbreak for Cortes Bay as well as the Seattle and Vancouver yacht clubs.
To the south, the house is exposed to the Straight of Georgia which delivers extremely high wind speeds and salt spray during winter storms. To withstand the high winds, the house structure is embedded into the bedrock with steel columns and exposed wood floor beams allowing the house to cantilever off the hillside. Steel cross braces resist the large lateral forces brought by the high winds.
The entry side of the house sits level with the bedrock and is made up of visually solid concrete forms that create the entry space and anchor the house to the site. From the entry, one accesses the central great room which includes the living, dining and kitchen, all with expansive views to the straight beyond.
The main gathering space opens up to a south facing exterior deck by way of a grand 11ft tall by 24ft wide custom sliding door. This great room is flanked by a guest suite and study to the west and a master suite that captures the morning sunlight from the east.
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia, Canada Architects: Balance Associates, Architects
Tom Lenchek AIA, Principal
Kyle Zerbey AIA, Project Architect
Project Year: 2011
Site Area: 9 +/- Acres
House Area: 1850 square feet
Budget: Withheld at request of home owners
Project Name: Cortes Island Residence
Structural Engineers: Quantum Consulting Engineers
General Contractor: Jean Fontaine Photo: Steve Keating