A granite boulder and a business magnate. Unlikely romance? Perhaps, but the instant Harry Wong caught sight of the massive outcropping above Howe Sound, he fell head over heels in love. He knew this was where he would build his dream home.
After inventing instant noodles and being the first person to automate mass production of other traditional Chinese foods like spring rolls, frozen dumplings, and lumpia wraps (he’s still often referred to as the father of the Chinese food industry), the challenges of building on a rock face didn’t faze Wong. “My philosophy is never to say something is impossible just because you don’t understand how it’s done,” he explains with a smile.
Wong enlisted Solomon Lim, his long-time friend and architectural professor. The two sat for hours together on the rock watching the ocean, mountains, and skies change as they envisioned the ideal location of every room. Gradually, an ambitious design evolved: a house with a semicircular front half and rectangular back. A sundrenched, two-storey interior corridor would integrate the two distinctive geometries.
To give his dream life, Wong retained Fook Weng Chan — the acclaimed Vancouver-based architect known for his use of natural materials and minimalist designs. The result is a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind home where visitors, stepping into the great room for the first time, never fail to gasp with surprise… and delight.
Across the ceiling, exposed-beam structural timbers radiate outward from the centre of the half-moon shaped space. There are no internal walls, only windows — full-height, curved windows clad in fir casings that gently wrap round the area like an embrace.
A simple, teak table reposes in front of the linear kitchen, ready to extend whenever needed for family-style dinners where 10 or more children, grandchildren, and friends often gather. For now though, only four chairs surround this social hub. “It leaves more room for dancing,” Wong says, his eyes twinkling as he spontaneously executes eight steps of a rhumba with cloud-like ease. “I’m 93 now, and I still dance and practice Tai Chi every day either here or on that deck.”
The deck, the first of this home’s four balconies, is located just outside — an outdoor ‘room’ that appears to float above the cliff. “Notice how the main deck area is three steps down from the living room?” Wong says gesturing toward the surrounding mountains and shimmering waters of Howe Sound beyond. “That’s because when your guests are standing outside, they won’t block the view for people who are still inside. How could anyone compete with such beauty? Only God can paint a picture like that.”
Upstairs, the master suite offers another place to view God’s artistry. Spanning the entire floor, this private oasis also features a double-sided fireplace, open lounge, and a sunny ensuite with slate flooring, triangular soaker tub, and large corner windows.
Downstairs on the lowest level, a final surprise awaits discovery — the rock that first captured Wong’s heart. “We didn’t excavate any part of it, we simply built the house around it,” he explains. The result is a one-of-a-kind, granite hot tub with adjoining frameless glass shower. Above, a cedar ceiling echoes the great room’s radial sunburst styling. From here, the ocean appears softly muted behind mature evergreens. Combined, the private spa and its vista form a perfectly balanced integration of man-made and natural artistry.
“When I am here in my home, my heart is always open” Wong says. “This house keeps me young, happy. And in life, the most important thing is happiness.”
Photo Courtesy of Living Space Imaging