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McLeod Bovell

BlackCliff House

BlackCliff House is situated on a granite rock rising 40 meters above the shoreline. This location is a geographical “half-way” point for a dispersed family whose members are intermittently working and living on multiple continents. The home accommodates diverse living arrangements while connecting its inhabitants to the site’s abundant natural character. It is an expression of the client’s desire to create a gathering place for current and future generations while still being able to accommodate a smaller family unit. The house takes its cues from distinct and divergent topographical features: views and light to the southwest and the extreme contours that drop to the Salish Sea to the west. The house pivots around these two axes resulting in a shifting spatial geometry at the intersection of the main and upper floors which appears as a void in the middle of the site. The upper floor supports intimacy for a small family sleeping within a tight core while still being able to accommodate larger family units in outer lying “wings”. These two distinct areas of the building are externally connected by a shared outdoor terrace. A circulation spine that runs parallel to this void is located in the centre of the house to take advantage of the balanced light and vertical views that are made possible by the sectional cut. The main floor living spaces are connected at the ground floor by outdoor and auxiliary spaces arranged along this cut. These spaces include a painting room floating above a reflecting pond at the entrance foyer on one end; a bamboo courtyard off the family room; an office; and a tea room at the other end of the circulation spine. The courtyards allow for a deeply stacked program to get light and air without obstructing views nor natural light. The spatial experience of the house is both familiar and slightly disorienting—a result of the efforts to balance the relationship between the regular orientation of the steeply sloping ground and the off-axis orientation of light and vistas to create essential and intimate spaces at the core which have a strong connection to the outdoor environment.

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