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Minimalist Slope House Blends with Natural Surroundings

Harbor Heights Residence was designed by Omar Gandhi Architects to withstand the harsh winter weather of Cape Breton on Canada’s east coast. At the same time, they wanted to maximize the panoramic views of MacIsaac’s Pond and Inverness Harbor, as well as the town of Inverness itself. Positioned on top of a hillside, the two-story home steps down the slope – discreetly hiding its lower level from the street.

From the street, the home peaks out over the rolling hillside and is barely noticeable thanks to the architect’s choice of western red cedar siding and roof shingles. The two shades of the western red cedar – weather worn and clear coated – appear like natural sun and shadow shades within the landscape.
The home’s driveway curves around the site to a hidden double garage at right angles to the main volume. Unlike the minimalist gable on the social structure, the garage has been designed with a flat roof to help hide it from the street. Since its entry is private, both garage doors are covered in glazings to allow for plenty of natural daylight to penetrate the interior.
Although the home appears low and minimalist from the street, the view up to it from the backside showcases the two-storey design, including a double height glazed section where the stairwell is located.
Just as the garage stretches out perpendicularly from the main structure, so too does the master suite on the lower level.
The roof of the master suite is a large terrace just off of the kitchen – perfect for dining alfresco.
Both the master suite and the downstairs family room open to the backyard. While the rest of the lower level bedrooms are kept private behind standard sized windows, the master suite is wrapped on three sides with large expanses of glazings for ultimate panoramic views.
The master suite is a study of minimalist design, with the emphasize on the views and not the architecture. Here walls of white, huge windows and exquisite hardwood floors are all that separate the sleeping area from the outside zone.
The double volume stairwell separates the bedrooms from the downstairs family room. While the vast majority of the home is kept to a natural palette, the way to the bedrooms is highlighted with an uber bright pop of emerald green.
With small children in the house, the stairwell is surrounded with both a solid white pony wall and a balustrade of glass for safety. The double height wall of glazing within the zone gives it a light, bright and visually stunning aesthetic – I mean check out those views – WOW.
The main entrance to Harbour Heights is directly in front of the stairwell, and next to it is the living room. The dining room and kitchen are positioned in a row next to the living room on the other side of the fireplace island. The fireplace also marks a change of level in the floor plan.
The fireplace island is a unique design that includes flanking bookshelves, a surround of marble slabs, a compartmentalized hearth and a white flue that is barely noticeable as it rises up from the fireplace to the cathedral ceiling above.
The kitchen design is a beautiful combination of white and walnut offset by olive green bar stools. Jill Greaves Design did an amazing job creating an interior design that is strikingly interesting while maintaining a submissiveness to the views.
The terrace off of the kitchen is wrapped in glass, keeping the views at the forefront. The decking maintains the exterior red cedar aesthetic.
Although Omar Gandhi Architects kept Harbour Heights open to the views, they designed a more modest and private facade on the front of the home, while still leaving enough glazings for daylight to enter.
By cladding the home in three forms of red cedar – shingles on the roof and main level, and two widths of horizontal siding on the lower level – the home blends seamlessly with the natural landscape that surrounds it.
Omar Gandhi Architect
Interior Design by Jill Greaves Design
Photography by Greg Richardson


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