Cliff Dwelling / Olson Kundig


  • Architects: Olson Kundig
  • Area:  6456 ft²
  • Year:  2013
  • Photographs:  Benjamin Bensch neider, Nic Lehoux, Chris Burnside / Olson Kundig
  • Landscape Design: Christina Charles Landscape Design
  • Contractor: High liner Construction Ltd.
  • Project Team :Jim Olson, Elizabeth Bianchi Conklin, Megan Quinn
  • City :White Rock
  • Country :Canada

Situated on the edge of a bluff above Semiahmoo Bay, the house creates privacy while taking advantage of spectacular views of the water, islands and mountains to the west, east and south. The transformation from urbanity to tranquility begins at the street. From the north, the home is protected and unassuming. Thick concrete walls shield the occupants from sights and sounds of the busy road above. Glass window walls and expansive decks maximize the south facing side.

Over three levels, the house slowly reveals its layers; principal living areas (living room, dining room and kitchen) are collected on the main level just off of the formal entry gallery. The master suite is private and tucked away on the second level while the family room, children’s bedrooms, sauna and exercise area on the ground floor open out to the lap pool and spa outside.

The cascading layers of the house are connected by a cast-in-place concrete stair. Glass guardrails are capped with a stainless steel handrail. The stair opens to a gallery on each level with views out to the Bay below. The simple material palette is durable and low maintenance. Concrete walls and floors, and natural unfinished zinc siding are contrasted with warm Douglas fir ceilings and soffits.

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