West Coast Residence | Tofino, British Columbia |
Given the natural awe and beauty of the site, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Wickaninnish Island, our generative formal strategy was informed by both the immediate and extant contexts of the West Coast. Being amidst an old-growth rain forest the site is covered in Redwood Cedars, to which our client asked for the design to ‘tread as lightly as possible’ on the landscape, removing as few trees as possible. As such our strategy was to have the architecture ‘weave’ its way through the forest, following the natural topography and rocky outcrops.
In addition, we were also inspired by the area’s rich Nautical History, in particular the technologies associated with ship building. We were fascinated by the extreme rationality of a ship’s design and in particular the ‘blurring/confluence’ with respect to a ship’s tectonics and materiality.
It is this condition (ie.blurring/confluence) that became the vehicle by which we questioned traditional notions of space, which often evoke a sense of boundary, containment, and program. We have been conditioned to understand space as that which has boundaries making a clear distinction between that which is interior from that which is exterior, as well as that which is contained by floor, roof or wall. What happens if architecture were to up-end all this? This is precisely what we explored in the design of the West Coast Residence.
With this project we were very interested in exploring the spatial implications of blurring instances of floor, roof and wall in an attempt to remove any preconceived understanding of where ‘space’ began and ended. Our desire was to have space(s) be in a constant state of flux and flow into each other, removing the need to contain or bound with traditional elements such as walls, doors, etc. The end result is a tectonic, material and spatial clarity not typically associated with the single family home. Perhaps, by adopting blurring/confluence as a formal strategy, new typologies for single family dwellings could emerge that allow for built form to be less ‘monumental’ and more fluvial or responsive to their environments.
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