A fertile front: West Vancouver Museum to hold annual tour of modernist architecture

A fertile front: West Vancouver Museum to hold annual tour of modernist architecture

West Vancouver, the idyllic enclave across the water from Vancouver proper, is in many ways a museum of mid-century West Coast modernism.

Unconstrained by the fussy civic bylaws that hampered creativity in Vancouver’s built environment, West Vancouver was midwife to the birth of a residential aesthetic developed by the likes of Barry Downs, Arthur Erickson and Fred Hollingsworth that is being celebrated by a new generation of archi-philes. Thus, this Saturday’s 10th annual West Coast Modern Home Tour, organised by the West Vancouver Museum, is a much-anticipated one. Offering rare glimpses into West Coast classics, updated and adapted from their mid-century roots, the tour will feature six different homes:

The 1953 Barnes Residence by CBK Van Norman, is an of-the-era ranch house, renovated by Michael Barnes in the late 1970s to incorporate a treehouse-like second floor loft;

A 1962 post and beam home by Gardiner Thornton Gathé & Associates Architects, benefits from floor to ceiling views of Cypress Creek and impressive landscaping that marries West Coast and Japanese elements;

The 1967 Staples Residence first designed by Bruno Freschi – then with Erickson Massey Architects – has been recently renovated by Freschi and long time Erickson collaborator Nick Milkovich, with 80 sq m of space added to the original footprint;

And Nick Milkovich Architects’ 2014 Hugo Eppich Studio resonates with the forms of the 1988 Arthur Erickson Eppich house Milkovich worked on as associate-in-charge. Its landscaped roof and stainless steel cladding merge with a tranquil pond overlooking a steep slope to create a contemplative space.

The tour embodies the challenges of preserving mid-century modernist homes – many of them unprotected and at risk. Concurrently, it pays homage to the area’s architectural heritage, one that is steeped in a unique built response to its former wilderness environment.

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