In 1988, writer Carolann Rule—who would go on to become editor of this magazine—reflected on the designers who were shaping West Coast modern architecture, and how spotting each of their distinct styles was a joy: Jim Cheng’s cubist forms, Dan White’s modern lines, Arthur Erickson’s classical references.

Wayback WL Werner FosterRoger Brooks

This one was more of a puzzle—she’d heard it was a Werner Forster, the architect known for designing all eight of Umberto Menghi’s restaurants, including Vancouver’s Il Giardino, and for his love of warm, earthy materials like terracotta and stucco. (It was a love big enough that it earned him the nickname “Mr. Mediterranean.”) But this one surprised Rule for its cool and formal structure—and while Forster acknowledged an affinity for that handmade, comforting look, “I don’t let my preferences interfere with my job as an architect,” he said. The client wanted modern, so Forster delivered this beauty.

Wayback WL Werner FosterRoger Brooks

On the ground level, 80 percent of the walls are glass, angled to the view. And while Forster insisted that he’s open to what the clients want, the one thing he pushed for was a little more novel at the time: an open kitchen. “When you entertain, you are going to spend time in there. An open kitchen is more conducive to socializing.” And more Mediterranean, noted Rule.

Wayback WL Werner FosterRoger Brooks

The one part that might not stand up to today’s standards? “The architect built as close to the edge of an unstable, 30-metre cliff as he dared to go.” Fingers crossed it was enough.

Wayback WL Werner FosterRoger Brooks

Wayback WL Werner Foster
Credit: Roger Brooks

The home from Vancouver architect Werner Forster features a glass-roofed gazebo that cantilevers over the edge of the cliff—a design not for the faint of heart (though it takes in wide-angled views out to the Gulf Islands).