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Photos by Ema Peter

We featured the under-the-stairs reading nook of this Whistler home in a recent issue of Western Living, but this is really just one small moment in a home that took our breath away.

Built on a 35-foot slope, it was no easy task for designer Mark Simone of Shelter Residential Design to finesse the form and construction of the 3,400-square-foot building with the help of Twin Peaks Engineering. Add in the challenges of Whistler’s short building season, tricky zoning regulations and (as with almost any project) budgetary constraints, and it’s a wonder anything at all got built on this last undeveloped lot in the Brio neighbourhood. “It was a complicated puzzle, an exercise in extensive 3D modelling,” says Simone. And yet, the designer pulled it off with some serious flair.

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The three-story volume is plunked right into the rock — “It’s like it’s on a concrete pedestal,” says Simone—but a soaring, double-height ceiling pulls you up, up, and up. At the top of the stairs, you can see 40 kilometres north, over the trees and out into the Whistler Valley. “This is a view you would’ve never appreciated before the house was built,” the designer says. “The house created the moment.”

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A south wing houses a two-bedroom rental suite and garage, as well as a media room and guest bedroom. A breezeway chops right through the exposed rock, connecting to a second wing that holds the living room, dining room, kitchen and family bedrooms. As part of the 3D modelling process, Simone looked closely at sun exposure to ensure sunlight would stream in to every room, even on the shortest days of the year. “It was pretty amazing to visit the house in December and find the kitchen full of sunlight still,” he says.

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Using prefab panels by B.C. Passive House, the entire house was assembled in a week and a half, with all the environmentally friendly, fire-resistant insulation built right into the walls. Triple-glazed windows keep the home’s energy performance well in check. Interior designer Lauren Ritz Design handled the finishing touches beautifully.

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Simone spent hundreds of hours working on this project, but the real-life results still managed to make an impact. “When I walked up into it the first time, I was like ‘whoa,’” he says. “You just can’t help it.”

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Originally published June 2021