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House 23.2, Surrey, Vancouver, British Columbia

New Real Estate in BC – design by Omer Arbel Office

Aug 9, 2010

House 23.2

Location: Surrey, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Architect: Omer Arbel Office, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Residence in Surrey, British Columbia

23.2 is a 500 square metre house for a family built on a large rural acreage. There is a gentle slope from east to west and two masses of old growth forest defining two “outdoor rooms” each with a its own distinct ecology and conditions of light; the house is situated at the point of maximum tension in between these two environments, and as such acts at once to define the two as distinct, and also to offer a focused transition between them.

House 23.2 Surrey House Surrey Vancouver Surrey House Vancouver

The design of the house itself began, as a point of departure, with a depository of one hundred year old Douglas Fir beams reclaimed from a series of burned down warehouses. The beams were of different lengths and cross sectional dimensions, and had astonishing proportions – some as long as 20 meters, some as deep as 90 cm. It was agreed that the beams were sacred artefacts in their current state and that we would not manipulate them or finish them in any way.

Because the beams were of different lengths and sizes, we needed to commit to a geometry that would be able to accommodate the tremendous variety in dimension, while still allowing the possibility of narrating legible spaces. We settled on a triangular geometry.

We folded wood triangular frames made of the reclaimed beams to create roof which would act as a secondary (and habitable) landscape. We draped this artificial landscape over the gentle slope of the site. We manipulated the folds to create implicit and explicit relationships between indoor and outdoor space, such that every interior room had a corresponding exterior room.

We wanted to maximize ambiguity between interior and exterior space. We removed definition of one significant corner of each room by pulling the structure back from the corner itself, using bent steel columns. We introduced large accordion door systems in these open corners so that the entire façade on both sides of each significant corner could retract and completely disappear.

We developed a detail that would allow the beams to define not only the ceilingscape of each interior room, but also to read strongly as elements of the building façade.

Surrey House images / information from Omer Arbel Office

Location: Surrey, Vancouver

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