Vancouver Island is a beautiful place in its own right. But imagine a custom home on a 67-acre waterfront property that is heated by a river that runs right through the house. Located in Metchosin, half an hour south of Victoria and designed by Marko Simcic, the home boasts six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and features a large pool, tennis courts, a guest house, and an enclosed boathouse.
From the architect:
The question of site is fundamental and constitutes more than examining the context that surrounds a project. Site should be understood as being constantly in flux, evolving with a design and beyond construction in continually renewed formations.
With its site in the heart of one of Canada’s most endangered natural ecosystems—the Garry Oak savannah—that is in decline primarily due to 150 years of conventional and insensitive development, the Metchosin house demonstrates an unusual effort to understand and work with natural ecological processes.
The existing context was extensively researched so while the house siting was amid the oak grove, a concrete armature rooted the structure clear of the critical root zones.
The cantilevered floors branched outward from this core, meeting up at various points with the tree canopy. The ribbon of program folds through the terrain responding to idiosyncratic experiences.
The sharp fold at the west end encloses an exterior space—a canyon which carries spent hydro-thermal ocean water. This space is bridged to connect the north and south arms—the private to the social spaces.
This enclosed exterior space exists in sharp contrast to the broader exterior—the one that surrounds the building where the physical boundary of inside and outside is less blurred, presenting the challenges of that kind of erasure on this sensitive site.
This project demonstrates how a development might be sustainably entwined with its site—an exploration of being with a landscape.
All photos: Jacob McNeil/Platinum HD British Columbia. Section drawings: Simcic + Uhrich Architects