Stability. Order. Gravitas. These are resounding qualities of the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, and Parthenon Place by Architect Michael Green.
Cantilevering over the rocky shoreline of West Vancouver, the single-family home has expansive views of the Howe Sound and Georgia Strait. Much like its ancient counterpart, this grand home is a stunning example of using local materials and the landscape to preside over the peak of terrain by which it commands.
Parthenon Place is a McFarlane Green Biggar project with Michael Green as Project Principal, who transformed this 1970s wood-framed house by drastically opening up the west elevation and incorporating an open-plan concept on the interior. The connectivity of spaces allows streams of daylight to circulate through the home, brightening and reflecting off the crisp white walls. With views so compelling and secluded, it would be foolish not to line the rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows.
The main living space is wrapped entirely in windows, giving the impression of stepping out into the view. The minimal material palette gives the home an earthy feel; wood beams and planks are exposed and lined throughout the home, drawing your eyes to the most exceptional architectural features while keeping the focus on the vistas.
Michael Green brought his expertise of wooden architecture to the renovation of this home by using the material to highlight its most intriguing spaces. White walls and tiled floors are a subtle backdrop for the wood features in the home, displaying the natural beauty of the wood grain. The arrangement of wood pieces also draws the eye to the windows, relating the wood to the outdoor forest in its most natural form.
The lack of windows at the entrance demonstrates a transition from public to private with the home oriented to open up to the landscape, accompanied by the continuation of the wood cladding and tiled flooring, tying the relationship between the interior and exterior.
The other spaces in the space echo the application of natural materials to frame the view, which can be seen in the washroom. The grain of the stone creates a horizontality to the room, punctuated by the view of the water and mountains. The composure of the sturdy stone and ethereal view create a tranquil atmosphere most of us can only wish to have in our own washrooms.
This dwelling reflects how the application of wood - in both form and function - is characteristic of Michael Green’s approach to design and sustainability, as he is renowned for building fortified wooden structures. His influence is present in the firm he spearheaded - MGA - which has attracted global attention for their expertise in the design of large-scale wood buildings, and actively advocates for sustainability and ecological conscientiousness from the effects of architecture and construction. Although MGA has designed a number of wood buildings across the globe, there haven’t been many projects in Vancouver being constructed in this manner. Michael Green himself has made tremendous efforts to bring attention to wood structures by initiating a non-profit institute called Design Build Research to teach about the design and construction process, and has even done an amazing Ted Talk on Why We Should Build Wooden Skyscrapers. Let's hear it for Michael Green!
Although wood-frame buildings are nothing new to Canadian architecture, Michael Green has taken a modern approach not only by using wood as an appealing finish but by applying it to the next generation of sustainable architecture that will be entirely constructed of wood.
Michael Green is the founder of Michael Green Architecture.
All photo's courtesy of Michael Green Architecture.
This article was researched and written by Emily Suchy, Undergraduate Student of Architecture at the University of Toronto.