On a pretty street in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhod sits a steep, square piece of property that has admired English Bay and the mountains since time immemorial. When the moment arrived for its current owners to downsize, they were ready for an architectural adventure. They asked architect Brad Lamoureux to design a home their children could easily visit, that was open-planned but succinct, and that would amaze them with its originality. Most important was the gorgeous view.
Favouring glass but knowing that not every space in the house should be exposed, Lamoureux set about harmonizing two different hubs of life.
“The vibrant, cobalt blue brick, which stylistically is an important visual anchor, is also functional,” Lamoureux says, “it contains those necessary spaces: bathrooms, mudroom, storage. That’s minimized across the frontage. The rest of the building is just completely open, flowing space, including inside to outside with terraces and ribbons of continuous glass from side to side so the view is completely under your control.” Almost the entire house is circumscribed by what Lamoureux calls “the zipper,” a strip of glass suspended in metal framing that begins as the entryway and evolves into skylights, overhangs and exterior detailing.
One thing the owners did not want was an adventure in home maintenance. The swaths of playfully blue brick fit that request and then some, being strong, long-lasting and even anti-microbial. They’ll stay glossy and bright for decades.
Lamoureux is an architect with a soft spot for brick; he loves the white masonry found on mid-century buildings in the area. “There’s a retrospective use of that material here but with a contemporary spin to it that elevates it to another level,” he says. His peers have an elevated opinion of it, too — the home won the Award of Excellence for a Single Family Residence from the Masonry Institute of BC.
Indoors, the architecture quietly frames the incredible view: large-format, muted grey, porcelain floor tiles, a white ceiling and a glass curtain wall system customized with slender white columns. It’s all part of the “reductivist, modern aesthetic” that the owners were drawn to.
But creativity and fun were still the name of the game. When those horizon-inspired elements stretch into the kitchen, they are punctuated by dramatic, vertical wood grain cabinetry and a splash of chartreusey green, “a bit of a nod to the midcentury colours that were so popular,” Lamoureux says. Sitting at the floating glass bar, the owners can feel the coziness of a walled-in kitchen and still enjoy the mountains, the sea and their open living area. This is thanks to the way the appliances are ingeniously banked together to double as a room divider.
But the most delightfully shape-shifting room may be the master suite. Neither husband nor wife wanted a sprawling private area, opting instead for more space in the guest rooms. How to combine their bedroom, bathroom and closets into a compact, airey sanctuary? The solution is neat.
Freestanding closet millwork serves as their headboard and defines the sleeping area from the ensuite. Doors pivot on either side for privacy. More closet millwork faces the bathing area, completing an ensuite and walk-in closet combination affectionately dubbed “the locker room.”
With spatial wisdom, beauty and resilience akin to a sailboat, this couple’s home is ready to go anywhere life takes them.
Photo Courtesy of Lamoureux Architect, Inc.