On Vancouver Island, British Columbia, nestled in a dense forest hugging a mountain overlooking the ocean, this exceptional study of geometric domesticity was designed by the award-winning Campos Studio, an architectural Vancouver firm that won the Western Living Architectural Designer Award in 2017 and 2019!
Located in Sooke, a municipality district near the southern tip of the Island, only 40-kilometres away from the province's capital, Victoria, this fascinating dwelling is perched overlooking the Salish Sea in an area featuring some of British Columbia's most breathtaking wilderness parks.
A testament to this architectural jewel’s design process is that the architectural team camped on the site for several days to find inspiration and brainstorm ideas about the infinite possibilities that this location offers.
As they shared on their website: "The rocky knoll, at the high point of the site, emerged as the natural place that organized the site. It was the place where everyone congregated to observe and socialize. Recognized as such, the decision was taken to leave this area intact and envelop it with the house"
For the house to celebrate the site’s topography, a concrete foundation platform matching the grey shades of stone was cast on the rocky outcrop to complement the natural features.
Cresting at one of the highest points on the property, the Sooke House appears as a collection of geometric shapes accentuated by the use of black metal panels and angled wooden slats.
Inside, this series of articulated spaces in a minimalist interior aesthetic is oriented to frame specific views of the mountains, sky, and sea.
"The house structure, organized around one proportioned concrete column rising out of the floor, mimics the trunks of the trees in size and scale ..." said Campos Studio.
The 140 square metres two-bedroom dwelling has an angled layout to capture differently fragmented views of the landscape, which invokes a visceral connection with the outside. At its centre, the north-oriented entrance opens into an open plan entertainment space, where a south-facing terrace offers panoramic views of the ocean.
Each of the sleeping zones has their own ensuite washrooms and are located at opposite ends of the home, on either side of the Entertainment space.
The interiors are intended to instigate a sentiment of tranquillity and peacefulness through the different abstracted views, which make each space unique, but also through the use of wooden features, white walls, and minimal furniture.
Inside, the angular ceilings are made with the same wooden planks cladding the exterior, cleverly blurring the distinction between inside and out.
I consider the Sooke House a genuine representation of how incorporating the mimetic of nature in architecture can drive the production of poetic spatial experiences while meeting more practical challenges. For instance, the owner requested a low-maintenance house, so the design solution included ensuring the texture and shape of the metallic envelope helps forest needles and twigs slip off the structure easily.
By respecting the forest landscape and integrating the house into its environment, the design celebrates the site’s natural features and topography while presenting an artful composition where natural and industrial materials contrast in a simple honest way.
This fascinating approach exquisitely showcases the new Canadian vernacular while elegantly paying tribute to the Sooke district’s motto “Where the rainforest meets the Sea”.
To learn more about the firm's innovative projects, visit the Campos Studio website.
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All photos courtesy of Ema Peter.
Researched and written by Mohcine Sadiq, an Internationally trained architect, and Canadian Architecture enthusiast.