Sometimes the best symmetry is created within a composition of asymmetrical structures and that is exactly the case with the double peaked volumes within Armitage residence, located just 12 miles south of Whistler, BC. NSDA Architects not only used engineered Douglas-fir glulam structures to create the volumes but also used them as the main design feature within the home.
The engineered glulam structure is front and center on the facade of the home, which is also covered in masonry blocks and corrugated sheet metal. This somewhat austere design was then brought to life with a pane of translucent blue glass within the glazings, a bold number “4” on the garage door and a bright red exterior lamppost.
Located on a mountainous site, Armitage residence sits on a bedrock swale filling the gaps between several large boulders. The location of the home is in a forest clearing on the border of a seasonal marsh that is very wet in winter and bone dry in the summer.
The glazings and door frames are anodized aluminum and the roof is covered in galvanized standing seam metal, which extends past the peaked volumes to create a sheltered entrance positioned on the side of the structure.
Inside the home a wood stove is the main source of heat. The freestanding model is positioned in front of a masonry block unit that captures and holds the heat of the stove; slowly releasing it long after the fire has gone out.
The fireplace is in the living room, which is wrapped on two sides by large expanses of windows. The floor throughout is a cool polished concrete, balancing out the warmth of the Douglas-fir above, as does the masonry block walls.
The social zone has a decided “U-shape”, wrapping around a sheltered terrace. The living room is on one side of the U and the dining room is on the other.
The dining room has a lower, more intimate ceiling height that is a combination of the exposed engineered glulam beams and tongue and groove 1×6 Douglas-fir decking.
At the foot of the “U shape” next to the living room is the kitchen and this is one room that NSDA Architects switched things up a bit with the introduction of red steel cabinetry reminiscent of industrial shops and bold swaths of cobalt blue that pays homage to the coastal mountain location.
A row of clerestory windows helps to flood the workstations with natural light while a row of 4 square translucent blue glass windows, running in alignment with the masonry block wall above a serving station creates a connection to the living room a few feet away.
A continuous tread steel staircase leads the way up to the second floor. Since there is an opening in the structural support to allow for access to the upper floor, a red steel cross bracing is installed in front of the glass wall.
Upstairs the engineered glulam really ups the design factor with its inverted V patterns. Here, instead of tongue and groove Douglas-fir decking, the ceilings are covered in Baltic birch plywood.
Under the peak of one of the asymmetrical rooflines is a studio space that continues the modern aesthetic within its mosaic of translucent glass panels on the outside wall. While stark in furnishings, the room is filled with the necessary vibe to be creatively inspired.
Not all glulam beams are made from Douglas-fir, in a prefab lake cottage in Quebec, Canada, they where made from black spruce boards.