Perched on a granite cliff 40 meters above the shoreline of the Canadian west coast, BlackCliff house is a symbolic beacon for dispersed family members who work and live on multiple continents. The home accommodates diverse living arrangements while connecting its inhabitants to the site’s abundant natural character. It is an expression of the client’s desire to create a gathering place for current and future generations while still being able to accommodate a smaller family unit.
The house takes its cues from distinct and divergent topographical features: views and light to the southwest; and the extreme contours that drop to the Salish Sea to the west. The house pivots around these two axes, resulting in a shifting spatial geometry at the intersection of the main and upper floors which appears as a void in the middle of the site. Organizationally, the upper floor supports intimate sleeping quarters for a small family around a tight core, while the outer lying “wings” can accommodate larger family units. These two distinct areas of the building are connected externally by a shared outdoor terrace. The circulation spine that runs parallel to this void is located in the centre of the house to take advantage of the balanced light and vertical views that are made possible by the sectional cut. Meanwhile, courtyards enable deeply stacked program to draw in natural light and ventilation.
The spatial experience of the house is both familiar and slightly disorienting—a result of the efforts to balance the relationship between the regular orientation of the steeply sloping ground and the off-axis orientation of light and vistas to create essential and intimate spaces at the core which maintain a strong connection to the outdoor environment.