House combines ancient wood-charring techniques with modern design
Vancouver Island, BC
Situated on a seaside bluff above a sandy beach on Vancouver Island, this house was designed for a young family.
Window walls and corner glazing frame expansive views of the bay and strait beyond, while large integrated sliding doors allow the facade to open to the adjacent terrace. The home’s living roof, planted with grasses and flowers native to the Pacific Northwest, sits low in the landscape and features operable ventilated skylights. The entry sequence is framed by retaining walls, weathered planter boxes and a recirculating pond fountain.
The ceiling of the main living/dining/kitchen volume combines cedar planks, perpendicular notched Douglas fir beams, and a recycled denim fabric for sound attenuation. Heating vents from a high-efficiency wood burning fireplace are integrated into the recessed steel C-channel above the hearth. Hydronic heating is deployed in the exposed concrete floor slab throughout the wood-framed home’s living and service spaces, master suite, children’s bedrooms and attached nanny suite. An existing garage, perched on the bluff’s edge, was repurposed as a guest suite, overlooking the bay and beach below.
Following studies and experimentation based on the centuries-old Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban (flame-charred wood), the tongue and groove vertical cedar cladding was torched on-site prior to installation. The result is a textured, dark, and lustrous exterior facade, which contrasts with the home’s bright, modern interior.
The architect says the beauty and warmth of wood plays an essential role in the design of functional spaces, especially in the context of the Pacific coast. Here, the collaboration between designers, owners, and the team of skilled builders, has resulted in a beautiful, one-of-a-kind home in a stunning setting.
D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism
Taylor Made Builders
Sama Canzian/Nathan Flach