From magical sanctuary to stunning oceanfront estate.
We never intended to end up on the Sunshine Coast but now it seems to have been the perfect move – close to family and friends in Vancouver, Whistler and Vancouver Island and a more relaxed pace of life.
We started looking at property here when we considered buying a deceased relatives home in Pender Harbour, initially for sentimental reasons. Instead we fell in love with our current property, purchasing it in Dec 2005 from the estate of former Trudeau era cabinet minister, Ron Basford. The 5 acre parcel boasted 260 ft of low bank waterfront on a sunny point, a west coast contemporary home, rocky outcroppings, some very old trees, and a small landscaped area backed by mature forest. We named the tranquil natural domain the Sanctuary at Sargeant Bay, upgraded and furnished it, then offered it to groups and families as a vacation rental while we continued to toil and finish raising our three daughters in Northern BC.
Development of the property began in 2009 with concept sketches, then floor plans scuttling back and forth between us in Dawson Creek and our architect Frits de Vries in Vancouver. The goal was to maximize the spectacular views and gain more living space without significantly altering the footprint of the original house which was considered legal though non-conforming, the natural boundary of the ocean being only 1.5 meters away.
The original house was composed of two separate volumes stepped and angled into the natural rock, connected only by a tapering stairwell. A small void beneath the upper volume was enlarged by a careful, laborious process of drilling and chemical rock splitting to carve out more square footage for the main floor. The upper story grew by building out over the flat roof of the lower volume towards the water, as well as by a conservatory addition containing the relocated main entry to the house. A new triangular projection on the main floor forms a prow thrusting seaward.
Changing the original flat roof to a series of intersecting angled planes set back from each other allowed full height glazing, opening up the views while ensuring privacy for each of the three bedrooms and decks located upstairs. An additional curved stairwell aids circulation and adds a sense of discovery and surprise.
On the main floor, level changes as well as ceiling height variation define the spaces within the open plan. Cooking, dining, living functions flow seamlessly in and outdoors surrounded by incredible water views in every direction. Short staircases channel traffic to the prow where 10 ft sliders open to the new lower concrete deck. More stairs connect the deck to the surrounding rock, solidly anchoring the house to the point.
The guesthouse was sited on a moss and lichen covered bluff without the need for major clearing. Trees embrace the structure and add to it’s character especially as their stately shapes emerge in predawn light or animate with wind and weather. A graceful butterfly roofline with feature scuppers accents this modern treehouse. Cedar cladding and corrugated metal add a contemporary twist to traditional coast typologies of boat sheds and shiplap structures. A cantilevered deck hangs over the bluff providing more outdoor space and ocean views.
Both houses blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces with large expanses of glass that continue the sight lines into the forest or out to sea, framing a mobile canvas. Architect Mies van de Rohe said “appreciating nature as an image is just as important as being within it”. He also believed expansive glazing could engender a more profound connection with nature than actually being outside. The few low wide slot windows in the Aerie provide relief and force viewers to adopt a more intimate perspective.
The property retains it’s rugged west coast feel with sensitive landscaping in balance with natural elements. Moss, broadleaf evergreens, ferns, salal, arbutus, pines, cedar and fir round out the plant palette.
THE REST OF THE STORY
After two and a half years of construction involving two houses, a pavilion, studio and outbuildings, we were finally ready to welcome guests to our new boutique lodgings in July 2012. Though a radical departure from the style of our celebrated bed and breakfast in Dawson Creek, the essentials of sustainability, attention to detail, welcoming luxury, and discreet personal service form the pillars of our Sunshine Coast hospitality.
Starting from scratch with a new accommodation venture on the Sunshine Coast has been more of a challenge than we expected. While we attracted all sorts of national and local press and built a solid reputation for The Granaries on Bear Mountain, we are an unknown entity on the West Coast. Our contractors, new friends and associates assure us that once the word is out we’ll have more guests than we can handle. While we wait to be discovered, we’ll happily enjoy our fabulous surroundings and continue to marvel at our luck to have found this amazing property.