For Vancouver architect Fook Weng Chan, the start of the design process literally begins at ground level: before a single angle is drawn, he camps on the land himself for a couple of days. “I take some to time think about how one would design there,” says Chan. “It’s a conscious design time, but it’s also time to allow the subconscious to absorb the nuances of the site.”
Once he had chosen the perfect location for this home on its Salt Spring Island property, he had to do a bit of educated guessing as to where the best views could be found on the forested site. That on-the-ground research paid off, and the house is designed to carefully unveil those discovered views. “There’s an unfolding sequence of vistas,” says Chan. “At the end of every passage you travel down, there’s a focus on something. In some places it's Mount Baker, as it is from the front door. But each space is modulated differently—some have low ceilings, others have soaring ceilings. Light is admitted different. It’s a wonderful, changing sequence.”
The homeowners, a couple from Calgary who will eventually retire on Salt Spring, were looking for a single-level home with comfortable spaces for friends and family. The post-and-beam structure that Chan designed was chosen to highlight the beauty of the natural, organic materials utilized throughout: Douglas fir posts and beams, concrete floors, honed black slate and teak accents. Floor-to-ceiling glazing that lines the great room is all wood-framed, though painted black. “It’s something I don’t normally do, paint wood,” says Chan. “But the homeowners wanted the black. And what it does well is to allow the timber post-and-beam work to be more purely expressed.”
Back in Calgary, the couple met with the team at Amanda Hamilton Interior Design to select furnishings for the main space. “For them it was a very architectural space,” says designer Amanda Hamilton. “They really respected the land, respected the view. And we were in a position where we wanted the architecture to shine: the furniture wasn’t to make a statement, it was to create a seamless conversation between what was happening between the elements of the house.”
And so a striking Boiacca table from Kristalia—paired with Torii dining chairs from Bensen—exudes a quiet minimalist aesthetic; a cozy Endless sectional from Bensen is positioned by a slate-lined fireplace; a pair of sheepskin-lined chairs are oriented to the view rather than the centre of the home—positioned to read the hours away. It’s all the perfect fit for a home that was designed, right from the start, to quietly exist as a part of its landscape.
Careful thought was given to the indoor-outdoor connection in the home by architect Fook Weng Chan. The deck, for example, was set at a height that prevented the guard rail from blocking the view from inside. And while these two chairs might have typically been placed to face the conversation zone by the sectional sofa, this home is all about what’s beyond the windows. Designer Amanda Hamilton’s team placed them in a spot where the homeowner could read and enjoy the view.
Architect Fook Weng Chan designed the custom light over the table. Constructed from wood and milk-laminated glass, it’s suspended by a single metal tube and counterbalanced witha striking aircraft cable. Designer Amanda Hamilton chose fine-legged Miunn counter stools from La Palma for the kitchen, so as not to obscure the inset teak on the face of the island.
Photos by Janis Nicolay.