Nordic Cool

This light and bright home in Whistler is also de­cep­tively fu­tur­is­tic: its pas­sive de­sign cre­ates a home that’s as beau­ti­ful and sus­tain­able as it is cozy.

Western Living - - CONTENTS - by amanda ross // pho­tographs by ema peter

A So­phie Burke and Cedric Burg­ers–de­signed home in Whistler takes its cues from Scan­di­na­vian modernism.

Whistler has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a laid-back, out­doorsy par­adise heavy on Gore-Tex and river rock, light on cash­mere and cut­ting-edge de­sign—which might be par­tially true. But when in­te­rior de­signer So­phie Burke in­tro­duced ar­chi­tect Cedric Burg­ers to a cer­tain eco- and mod­ern-minded client of hers, the newly as­sem­bled team had one man­date: to cre­ate a home that would be mind­ful of the en­vi­ron­ment and über-con­tem­po­rary, yet just as cozy as any other lum­ber-laden moun­tain home. The re­sult? A re­fined take on the cabin: a clean, sim­ple dwelling that’s si­mul­ta­ne­ously warm, high-tech and el­e­gant.

“Houses are all go­ing to look like this in 10 to 15 years,” says Burg­ers, prin­ci­pal of Burg­ers Ar­chi­tec­ture and the ar­chi­tect on the project. “It’s in­cred­i­bly en­ergy-ef­fi­cient and uses only 10 per­cent of the en­ergy of a code-built house.” Made by BC Pas­sive House, Canada’s first fa­cil­ity to pre­fab­ri­cate struc­tures in line with the rig­or­ous Euro­pean Pas­sive House Stan­dard, the home has a func­tion­al­ity that ren­ders con­ven­tional air con­di­tion­ers and fur­naces ob­so­lete. The home­own­ers, deeply in­ter­ested in re­new­able en­er­gies and pas­sion­ate about cleaner liv­ing prac­tices, wanted their moun­tain home to be a re­flec­tion of their com­mit­ment to th­ese daily prin­ci­ples.

As such, ev­ery minute de­tail had to be strate­gized and plot­ted long be­fore the first ham­mer could fall. Pas­sive houses are pre­fab­ri­cated off-site in Pem­ber­ton, B.C.—about a half hour north­east of Whistler—and then as­sem­bled on-site, so, un­like a con­ven­tional build, there’s no mar­gin for er­ror or a mid­way change of mind. First up, the sit­ing would need to be care­fully con­sid­ered: the home­own­ers cher­ished the prop­erty’s view of Rainbow Moun­tain. (In fact, dur­ing the plan­ning,

the home­owner rented a 30-foot lad­der to climb to the hy­po­thet­i­cal sec­ond floor: 1 want to see what Pm go­ing to see out my bed­room win-dow!" he told Burg­ers.) It would have been so much eas­ier to site the house fac­ingWhistler and Black­comb," ad­mits Burg­ers. To cap­tur e that view. the house re­quired 'a sort of twist­ing ac­tion" to turn it 45 de­grees, which meant it would no longer sit at a right an­gle. "That was ini­tially tough for me to wrap my head around be­cause I love right an­gles." laughs Burg­ers. "But in the end, it was the right thing to do." Once the de­sign was inked, the next steps fell into place seam-lessly. In au­tumn. a hole was dug on the prop­erty and the foun­da­tion poured. As the snow be­gan to fall, con­struc­tion stopped on-site, but that mo­men­tum car­ried on be­hind the scenes at the BC Pas­sive House ware­house. Come spring, two flatbed trucks ar­rived at the prop­erty with a crane to lift all those pre­fab pan­els into place: somel&-inch screws af­fixed them all to­gether. 'It's abit like putting to­gether a gin-ger­bread house? ex­plains Burg­ers. The re­sult­ing abode. while de­signed to rig­or­ous spec­i­fi­ca­tions that en­sure all parts fit to­gether snugly. still feels very much a part of na­ture. Each strate­gi­cal­ly­placed win­dow was de­signed to frame per fec t views. but there's an­other ben­e­fit to those high-ef­fi­ciency Ger-man win­dows, too. 'The first thingyou no­tice when you walk in is that it's mau­soleum-quiet: says Burg­ers. There's vir­tu­ally no "leak­age" in the house, he ex­plains. thanks to the triple-paned wood win­dows, which also work to keep temperatures per­fectly uni­form through­out:

stand­ing next to one of the win­dows is equally warm as stand­ing in the mid­dle of the room.

Once the shell was com­plete, it was time to turn to the in­te­ri­ors. From the out­set, the team at So­phie Burke De­sign be­gan to con­ceive of an in­te­rior that would per­fectly dove­tail with the ex­te­rior’s darker pal­ette, which fea­tures shou sugi ban, or Ja­panese burnt-wood cladding. Be­cause the home­own­ers fol­low a clean-liv­ing ethos, ev­ery­thing would need to be as nat­u­ral as pos­si­ble in­side as well—the re­sult of which is an airy, light-filled space that feels all at once both Nordic and Zen, and con­trast­ing har­mo­niously with the darker ex­te­rior.

The calm, seren­ity-steeped in­te­rior was the re­sult of prepa­ra­tion equally in­tense as the out­side form had re­quired. The home­own­ers re­quested that lo­cal and green ma­te­ri­als be faith­fully sourced and, when that wasn’t pos­si­ble, they ex­pected ma­te­ri­als to come from eth­i­cally minded or fair-trade com­pa­nies. “We worked for so many months try­ing to find the right wood that met this cri­te­ria, but we were also try­ing to avoid any lo­cal wood that would give us or­ange tones, like cedar,” says So­phie Burke. “We wanted some­thing Nordic and white­washed, but, be­ing mind­ful of lo­cal ma­te­ri­als, for­eign white oak wasn’t right ei­ther.” The team, in­clud­ing se­nior de­signer Jen­nifer Mil­lar of So­phie Burke De­sign and Leon Lebeniste Mill­work, worked for months to achieve the win­ning look: lo­cal hem­lock wood was care­fully white­washed af­ter weeks of R&D try­ing to ef­fect the per­fect light stain. Now hem­lock ceil­ings, cab­i­netry and

fur­ni­ture all tie to­gether in one seam­less, so­phis­ti­cated space that could eas­ily be a home on the Coast, a Scandi-na­vian cabin or a New York apart­ment. It's far from the usual Whistler sus­pects. "When the in­te­ri­ors are clean and min­i­mal, the de­tails are key be­cause you re­ally no­tice them," says Burke. One de­tail that was re­quired was dura­bil­ity be­cause of the fam­ily's plethora of skis, snow boots and even bikes (one of the home­own­ers is an avid moun­tain biker). The mar­ble coun­ters hail from Van­cou­ver Is­land, while other no­table de­tails fol­low a nat­u­ral ethos—wood, linen and cot­ton fab­rics, wool wall­pa­per and nat­u­ral ce­ram­ics abound. They all work in con­cert to cre­ate a peace­ful, fam­ily-friendly get­away that's warm and wel-com­ing even on the cold­est of win­ter days. There's a yin and a yang to the home—a sense of bal-ance with the darker shell that en­velops a light and natu-ral in­te­rior. "So­phie and Cedric tuned in very quickly to the dif­fer­ent styles my hus­band and I are at­tracted to and did an amaz­ing job of har­mo­niz­ing them," says the home­owner. "My hus­band prefers darker colours, metal, lots of glass and raw ma­te­ri­als—which Cedric and his team re­flected in the ar­chi­tec­ture; I dreamed of soft, light, nat­u­ral colours and tex­tures that felt like a calm, warm em­brace, which So­phie and her team mag­i­cally brought to life."

Clean Liv­ing The peace­ful, light-filled in­te­ri­ors were cre­ated with na­ture in mind: there are no syn­thetic fi­bres, no plas­tic, no chem­i­cally laden prod­ucts. “The re­cov­ery ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem— or lungs of the house— con­stantly re­plen­ishes the air with clean air so there’s no pollen or dust,” ex­plains ar­chi­tect Cedric Burg­ers. “There is no dif­fer­ence in air qual­ity out­side or in­side.”

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