The Rock House / Gort Scott
Text description of the architects. The Rock is a new private home in the Canadian mountain resort of Whistler, designed by London-based architects Gort Scott. The building, rooted in the landscape, consists of a six-bedroom house and a two-bedroom guest house connected by an outdoor terrace. Concrete blades rise from the ledge and enclose open living spaces between the dense concrete and a finely crafted wooden structure above.
The architectural claim for this project follows Frank Lloyd Wright’s statement: “No house should ever stand on a hill. It should be from the hill. The hill and the house should live happier with everyone. ”The pre-construction site experience was an incredible and unique moment for the client; As such, the role of architecture was to enhance the natural environment and reveal its drama and peculiarities. Instead of overpowering the rock, the architecture deliberately highlights it; conscious of the visual effect, the architecture attracts the gaze of passers-by and focuses on the ridge. From the outside to the inside and from strategy to detail, this building was designed with the human experience in mind.
Inside, the drive through the building pays tribute to the original experience of moving through the undeveloped terrain onto the ridge. When entering through the lower concrete levels, you will be slowly led up through interconnected rooms. On this trip, different living zones are designed around family life and positioned according to privacy, celebrated views, sun orientation and topography. Subtle changes in the levels and materials delimit these “zones” – including a library, dining area and kitchen – within the otherwise open space. The range of materials has been deliberately refined and varies subtly between polished and board-marked concrete surfaces, so that shadow and light patterns give the interconnected rooms different atmospheres and appeal to all the senses. The journey into the interior culminates in a spacious living room on the rocky summit, where a glimpse through dense trees gives way to a panoramic view over Lake Alta.
In order to pursue an “architectural expression of the self”, the client initiated a design competition, which was only possible by invitation, and was looking for a design that embodied: calm strength, privacy, respect for nature, human achievement and, above all, “harmonization of contradictions ”. Early on, the architects spent a week observing the site – light, topography, views, and extreme weather conditions – from sunrise to sunset. This deep understanding of the place is translated into an architecture that synthesizes contradicting elements throughout: namely exposition and intimacy; Openness and unity.
Concrete flows between exterior and interior surfaces, blurring the boundaries between home and landscape. Inside, the polished wood, textiles and integrated chimneys provide visual and sensory warmth and create a feeling of intimacy and security. The interior wood paneling is made from local hemlock, which has been specified for sustainability and is a subtle reference to the local western hemlock; the landscape invites further to penetrate the living spaces.
Sustainable energy concepts and high-quality details ensure peace and quiet. The building envelope is built according to the passive house standard and a prefabricated wooden panel system for the upper floors ensures the highest quality and environmental compatibility. Passive air conditioning strategies address the extreme climatic fluctuations without affecting the design ambitions. In every size, from the anchoring of the building in the landscape to the details of the carpentry and the tailor-made furnishings, the house celebrates material expression. Without sacrificing its functionality as a delightful single-family home, the building changes the location and shows innovative ways of combining architecture, landscape and the individual.