As one of Vancouver’s largest properties, this meticulously restored 4.5-acre estate strikes a captivating balance between the historical and contemporary. The home sits within lush grounds that seamlessly blend the distinctive character of the architecture with the landscape. Long site lines, generous open spaces, and borrowed views from the golf course and river delta below give the property a sense of boundless nature; while large covered patios, pool terraces, and expanses of lawn provide an array of spaces for entertaining. The estate captures the allure of early 20th century elements, and infuses them with contemporary design methods and materials, greeting all who wander its unique spaces with a sense of surprise and playful delight.
The development of this project started when the client found a property that worked with his desire to purchase and preserve a unique piece of Vancouver’s history. This estate has had only three owners since being built in 1929, and despite years of underinvestment, had good “bones” and a rich history. In a city where the heritage housing stock is under intense pressure, it is rare to find an original home on a large lot in a central location. In the absence of a project architect, our scope of work encompassed all outdoor spaces including the exterior of the house itself. Patio spaces equal the square footage of the main floor demonstrated the significant investments made in outdoor living. Despite these upgrades, only about 10% of the overall site area is impermeable. The client provided historical photos of the grounds, which helped in the restoration strategy for the house exteriors, as well as guiding the planting palette and site programming. What started as a quick conceptual sketch developed into a robust and layered concept that brought the client and design team’s vision to life.
A key component of the design program was to add the amenities expected of a 21st century estate home, which the existing grounds were currently lacking. The client entrusted the designers to re-program the house and site, making it both functional for himself as well as marketable, if sold in the future. We included outdoor cooking facilities, fireplaces, covered spaces with heaters for inclement weather, a 65-foot long infinity edge pool, spa, water features, additional covered parking, extensive patio areas for entertaining, site-specific art pieces, golf practice facilities, a dock and lake, and significant re-planting of garden areas.
Through a rigorous design development process, decisions were made regarding what to restore and what to replace. The house consisted of an original wing and an uninspiring addition. Only the most authentic historical components were restored, and all others were either removed, simplified and renovated with a contemporary design language, in order to create a striking visual contrast of old against new. We worked closely with the interior design team to harmonize materials and design approaches, and we studied the home’s interior to create strong spatial relationships between the interiors and the gardens. Columns and walls were removed in covered areas to create more open spaces with unimpeded flow. Patio pavers raised on pedestals allow outdoor floor elevations to match the interior to create seamless transitions. “Infinity edges” on the pool and hot tub elevate these amenities to sculptural elements that reflect the trees and sky, constantly changing with variations of light and weather. The dramatic suspended overlook terrace, both sculptural and functional, is projected 30 feet beyond the edge of the bank, with a frameless glass railing affording breathtaking views of the lower yard and landscape beyond.
Garden beds use a mix of geometric patterning and long elegant drifts. Hard surface areas feature “Old World” stone for the driveway and secondary paths, juxtaposed by more contemporary materials for walkways, patios and water features. Layered with the hardscape, the garden is a canvas of classical estate plantings contrasted by the wild, native foliage of the Pacific Northwest. Along the periphery of the property, a selection of mature specimen trees gracefully blends with the existing old growth forest, creating a sense of privacy and refuge. Meandering pathways weave in and out of planting beds to engage users with each of the unique spaces of the garden.
From conceptual sketch through to construction, the garden is designed as a classical and contemporary foil. The outdoor spaces, as a result, seek to complete and extend indoor spaces beyond the building and into the garden, a thoroughly modern approach. We believe the project is worthy of award because of the success that was achieved in salvaging and re-purposing a historical property, while bringing it up to 21st century standards of luxury and amenity, alongside the spectacular visual juxtapositions and meticulous design details woven between home and garden.
Entrant office name: Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architects
Other design firms involved in the design of the garden (if any): N/A
Project location (State or Country): Canada
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2016