West Vancouver home overlooking the Strait of Georgia gets a modern makeover
6072 Eagleridge Drive, West Vancouver, BC
Ask for a price: $4,375,000
Taxes: $7,931.74 (2022)
Lot size: N / A
Officers: Trent Rodney and Jason Choi, West Coast Modern Group
In 2005, two aspiring builders bought a mid-century home in West Vancouver’s Eagle Harbor neighborhood. They approached architect Lewis Morse with a plan to transform the dwelling perched on a ridge overlooking the Strait of Georgia.
The 1950s house and steep slope presented an interesting challenge for the architect, who had built his reputation on designing institutional buildings. After graduating from the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, Mr. Morse spent time in renowned firms in London and Copenhagen.
Upon his return to Canada, he designed an award-winning school building for Aboriginal students in Thompson, Manitoba. At the age of 26, he designed Centennial Hall at the University of Winnipeg, which has been recognized as one of the finest examples of late modernist architecture in Canada.
Mr. Morse cites Swiss architect Le Corbusier and Spanish architect-engineer Santiago Calatrava as early influences. He was drawn to the creative possibilities that emerge when architects and engineers collaborate. His early career included a stint at Arup Group, which was one of the companies involved in building the high-tech Center Pompidou in Paris.
The transparent facade of another Parisian monument, the Maison de Verre, inspired him and many architects and designers of his generation, he adds.
“What a wonderful expression of steel and glass it was,” says Mr. Morse.
By contrast, office buildings in the 1960s and 1970s were often dingy spaces designed with drop ceilings and fluorescent lighting, Morse points out. He preferred to remove the ceiling and expose the work of mechanical engineers, who assembled air exchange systems with the view that they would be seen.
“If you just took the caps off, you’d have a lot more texture,” he says. “It would have character and be interesting for people to see.”
With a practice grounded in these principles, Mr. Morse visited the vintage house on Eagleridge Drive.
“He had seen better days. I don’t think anyone lived there for a while,” Mr Morse recalled. “It was a difficult site – I kind of like houses that have difficult sites.”
As the most senior developer, Mr. Morse agreed to take on the project on the condition that he take over the design. His young clients accepted.
The house today
In order to stay on the safe side of planning regulations and maximize water views, Mr. Morse decided to retain the footprint of the original house and keep the building as close to the road as possible.
He also kept the rooms with the post-beam architecture in Douglas fir.
After a year of construction, the new house was about double the size of the original.
Today, the home has four bedrooms and three bathrooms in 4,481 square feet of living space spread over three levels.
The view of the water and the rocky terrain dictated much of the design of the additions, Morse says.
During construction, one of the project managers wanted to blast rock out to create a flatter base for a bedroom on the lower level.
“We did as little blasting as possible because it’s noisy and expensive,” says Morse. “I said, ‘we’re going to build the bed on top of the rock’ and they did.”
He also made heavy use of glass in order to make the most of the western light.
Residents and visitors arrive at a main entrance with a three-story wood and glass wall. Inside, a large landing sits midway between the lower level and the main level. The open risers of the dramatic staircase leading to the main levels allow views of the trees and sky beyond.
On the main level, the steel structure of the building is exposed. A large dining room with a beamed ceiling and wooden windows has doors that open onto the outside terrace.
The modern kitchen features wooden cabinets, stainless steel counters and a large island covered in Carrera marble.
In the living room, the ceiling rises to two and a half stories.
“The spaces are definitely different, but I think their flow is pretty good,” Morse says.
Upstairs, two large bedrooms overlook the treetops. The lower level has two additional bedrooms and a space for lounging.
Outside, Mr. Morse covered shingled walls with a corrugated iron roof. The material was easy to obtain and went well with the stone, glass and shingles of the exterior, he says.
“I never liked asphalt – I guess it was too ordinary,” he says.
The finished house was purchased by a Canadian actress who admired the architecture, Morse says. Another family took over for several years before the current owners, Joel and Giovanna Meire, bought the property at the end of 2019.
Mr Meire says the couple had been looking for a home for the better part of a year that would suit them and their two children. A few weeks after moving in, they invited Mr. Morse and his wife to dinner so they could learn about the history and architecture.
“We’re creative people, so we enjoy it a little more,” he says of the design process.
Mr. Meire says one of his favorite rooms is the master bedroom, with doors that open to the fresh air.
The terrace outside the dining room is another popular gathering place for the family.
“As soon as the sun hits it, it immediately smells like summer,” he says.
For his part, Mr Morse says he has a fondness for the project and would not mind becoming the new owner himself, but spends much of his time in d other parts of the province.
“I have a liking for most houses, but I particularly like ones where everyone works together. If it’s not me, I hope someone has it who will enjoy it.
The best feature
Mr Meire says the treetop view allows the family to watch the changing light and distant thunderstorms coming.
“You can see from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and the tip of Bowen Island,” he says. “It’s an ocean view from most rooms in the house.
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