A MIL­LION LIT­TLE MO­MENTS

Ev­ery inch was con­sid­ered in this mod­ern, min­i­mal house.

Western Living - - HOMES - by BARB SLIGL // pho­to­graphs by TRACEY AY­TON

It took two weeks to come up with the right con­fig­u­ra­tion of Bocci lights. Home­owner Zack raised and low­ered wa­ter bal­loons rigged on fish­ing line in the en­try­way of his house when it was still a framed struc­ture. “I would move them ev­ery day and play with them,” he says. To­day, those 24 glass balls are a pinkand-pur­ple con­stel­la­tion framed within the sec­ond­floor win­dow. At night, from the street, it be­comes a light­box and work of art.

“That’s full-on Zack,” says ar­chi­tect David Ni­co­lay of Evoke In­ter­na­tional De­sign. “This is the stuff he thinks about.” Ni­co­lay sim­ply gave him the space to turn those thoughts into mo­ments within the ar­chi­tec­ture—from that Bocci cas­cade to a 51-foot hall­way that’s treated as a piece of art. The two worked closely to­gether for two and a half years, start­ing from the per­mit nav­i­ga­tion when Zack found a dou­ble-wide cor­ner lot in Van­cou­ver’s Mount Pleas­ant neigh­bour­hood.

A pokey pink house (which Zack named Pinken­stein) was de­mol­ished to make room for the min­i­mal, mod­ern box that now stretches 54 feet across the whole width of the prop­erty. “I would take wide and shal­low over nar­row and long many times over,” says Zack of the wide-and-low ty­pol­ogy of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture and the un­re­stricted

nat­u­ral light that comes through the width of this 3,700-square-foot two-level, four-bed­room/three-bath­room house.

“The back of the house is very trans­par­ent,” says Ni­co­lay of the huge floor-to-ceil­ing slid­ing and stack­ing panes that cre­ate a 30-foot seam­less open­ing to the back­yard from the great room (made of a con­nected kitchen, din­ing and liv­ing room). And there are no ex­tra­ne­ous ad­di­tions. “We kept it very mod­est in its foot­print, we didn’t do a lot of wig­gles on it, we kept the form very sim­ple, the fen­es­tra­tion very sim­ple…” says Ni­co­lay—be­cause, well, “You can’t hide crummy de­tails in a mod­ern house.”

Ev­ery­thing was thought out and lined up. Ob­ses­sively. “Ev­ery inch was con­sid­ered,” says Zack, who jokes about be­ing near-fa­nat­i­cal about de­tail.

Con­trol cuts in the con­crete, which pre­vent it from crack­ing, line up with struc­tural col­umns, which line up with win­dow mul­lions and in­te­rior walls. And the wide­and-low rec­ti­lin­ear pro­file of the house it­self is re­peated and lay­ered through­out the de­sign; the cast-in-place con­crete fire­place, win­dows, wrapped range hood, shower in­sets and bath­room mir­rors are all it­er­a­tions of the same ba­sic shape.

“One of the big themes of the house is that it’s very

con­sis­tent and things are re­peated through­out,” says Zack. Each bath­room has the same white mar­ble, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing in size from large­for­mat to mo­saic tiles. And the ma­te­rial and colour pal­ette is lim­ited to whites and greys in con­crete and dry­wall, plus the warmth of white oak—all in matte and honed fin­ishes, from white Co­rian coun­ter­tops to the also-white free-stand­ing tub in the mas­ter bath. Ev­ery­thing is quiet; noth­ing is shiny. Even the pol­ished con­crete floor has a matte sealer on it. And the ex­te­rior cedar sid­ing is stained a soft, cus­tom char­coal that was, of course, well sam­pled by Zack.

Ni­co­lay calls it “an ex­er­cise in min­i­mal­ism,” re­sult­ing in stripped­out de­tails and dis­trac­tion—even in light­ing. The long, lin­ear light over the din­ing ta­ble is al­most in­vis­i­ble. Af­ter search­ing for an un­ob­tru­sive pen­dant, Zack ended up de­sign­ing and mak­ing the one-inch-square tubu­lar LED fix­ture with an­other de­signer and his fa­ther, an ar­chi­tect who de­signed the house Zack grew up in (which was fea­tured in

Western Liv­ing in 1987). “There’s a mil­lion of those lit­tle mo­ments hap­pen­ing in this house,” says Zack—like the re­veal (the gap be­tween wall and con­crete floor) that climbs up stairs and turns cor­ners in per­fect alignment. It’s also flush with hard­ware-free doors that dis­ap­pear when closed. “Not

a bump or a lump or an im­per­fec­tion,” says Zack. “Th­ese walls are so straight and clean…they’re beau­ti­ful, whereas in an­other house they’re just walls.”

The walls are so per­fect that Zack and his wife, Elana, chose to leave them mostly bare and free of art. “The up­per-floor hall­way re­ally sur­prises peo­ple,” says Zack, be­cause it runs the full 51-foot width of the house, and the un­in­ter­rupted white walls are suf­fused with nat­u­ral light from sky­lights over­head and floor-to-ceil­ing, wall-to-wall win­dows on ei­ther end. The hall is the art.

There are, of course, decor el­e­ments that pop against all that flaw­less white: a pur­ple Bensen sofa, a state­ment-mak­ing Artemide Tolomeo Mega floor lamp, a quirky Starck gnome stool, a whim­si­cal Ingo Mau­rer Lu­cellino ta­ble light, and iconic mod­ern-de­sign pieces like an orig­i­nal Tavolo con Ruote cof­fee ta­ble that once be­longed to Zack’s dad. And those multi-hued Bocci lights.

One of the glass balls hangs low, a pur­pose­ful po­si­tion­ing that Zack first tested out with those wa­ter bal­loons. Just vis­i­ble through the win­dow from the street, it draws the eyes of passersby. And it en­cour­ages any­one ap­proach­ing the wide ex­panse of the house to look up and see the other balls of light. The view un­folds, changes and re­veals more. Much like all the lit­tle mo­ments hap­pen­ing in this house.

Mod­ern Magic “Zack is very much a less-is-more guy,” says ar­chi­tect David Ni­co­lay. The home­owner se­lected all the fur­nish­ings, from the Po­liform sofa in the liv­ing room (above) to the Bocci lights in the en­try­way (left and right). The art­work in the liv­ing room was com­mis­sioned by friend and artist David Bid­dle.

Great Open­ings The rear of the house is fit­ted with a mas­sive min­i­mal-frame slid­ing­panel sys­tem that was im­ported from Por­tu­gal, the first time this sys­tem was used in Van­cou­ver.

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