6072 Eagleridge Dr., West Vancouver, B.C.
Asking price: $4,375,000
Taxes: $7,931.74 (2022)
Lot size: N/A
Agents: Trent Rodney and Jason Choi, West Coast Modern Group
In 2005, two aspiring builders purchased a mid-century home in West Vancouver’s Eagle Harbour neighbourhood. They approached architect Lewis Morse with a plan to transform the dwelling perched on a ridge overlooking the Strait of Georgia.
The 1950s-era home and precipitous slope presented an interesting challenge to the architect, who had built his reputation on designing institutional buildings. After graduating from the University of Manitoba’s school of architecture, Mr. Morse spent time at prominent firms in London and Copenhagen.
Upon his return to Canada, he designed an award-winning school building for Indigenous students in Thompson, Man. At the age of 26, he designed Centennial Hall at the University of Winnipeg, which earned accolades as one of Canada’s finest examples of late-modernist architecture.
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 firms involved in the building of the high-tech Centre Pompidou in Paris.
The transparent façade of another Paris landmark, the Maison de Verre, inspired him and many architects and designers of his generation, he adds.
“What a wonderful expression of steel and glass that was,” Mr. Morse says.
By contrast, office buildings in the 1960s and 70s were often dismal spaces designed with dropped ceilings and fluorescent lighting, Mr. Morse points out. He favoured removing the ceiling and exposing the work of mechanical engineers, who put together air exchange systems with the view they would be seen.
“If you just took out the ceilings, you’d have a lot more texture,” he says. “It would have character and be interesting for people to see.”
With a practice built on those principles, Mr. Morse visited the vintage house on Eagleridge Drive.
“It had seen better days. I don’t think anyone had lived in it for a while,” recalls Mr. Morse. “It was a difficult site – I kind of like houses that have difficult sites.”
As the more experienced developer, Mr. Morse agreed to take on the project on the condition that he take the lead on design. His young clients agreed.
The house today
In order to stay on the right side of planning rules and maximize the water views, Mr. Morse decided to retain the footprint of the original house and keep the building as close as possible to the road.
He also preserved the rooms with post-and-beam architecture of Douglas fir.
After one year of construction the new house was approximately double the size of the original.
Today the house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms in 4,481 square feet of living space spread over three levels.
The water view and rocky terrain dictated much of the design for the additions, Mr. Morse says.
During construction, one of the project managers wanted to blast out the rock to create a more level base for a bedroom on the lower level.
“We did as little blasting as we could possibly do because it’s noisy and expensive,” Mr. Morse says. “I said, ‘we’ll build the bed on top of the rock’ and so they did.”
He also made extensive use of glass in order to make the most of the light from the west.
Residents and visitors arrive to a main entrance with a wall of wood and glass three stories high. Inside, a large landing sits about halfway between the lower level and the main level. The open risers of the dramatic stair to the main levels allow views through to the trees and sky beyond.
On the main level, the building’s steel structure is exposed. A large dining room with a beamed ceiling and wood-trimmed windows has doors that slide open to the deck outside.
The modern kitchen has wood cabinets, stainless-steel countertops and a large island topped with Carrera marble.
In the living room, the ceiling soars to two-and-a-half stories high.
“The spaces are certainly different but I think their flow is quite good,” Mr. Morse says.
Upstairs, two large bedrooms look out over the treetops. The lower level has two additional bedrooms and space for lounging.
Outside, Mr. Morse topped shingle-clad walls with a corrugated steel roof. The material was easy to obtain and worked well with the stone, glass and shingles of the exterior, he says.
“I never liked asphalt – I guess it was just too ordinary,” he says.
The finished house was purchased by a Canadian actress who admired the architecture, Mr. Morse says. Another family took over for several years before the current owners, Joel and Giovanna Meire, purchased the property in late 2019.
Mr. Meire says the couple had been looking for the better part of a year for a home that would suit them and their two children. Within a few weeks of moving in, they invited Mr. Morse and his wife for dinner so they could learn more about the history and architecture.
“We’re creative people so we have a little more appreciation,” he says of the design process.
Mr. Meire says one of his favourite rooms is the primary bedroom, with doors that slide open to the fresh air.
The deck outside the dining room is another popular gathering spot for the family.
“As soon as the sun touches it, it feels like summer immediately, he says.
For his part, Mr. Morse says he has a fondness for the project and wouldn’t mind becoming the new owner himself but he spends much of his time in other parts of the province.
“I have a fondness for most of the houses, but I particularly like the ones where everyone works together. If it isn’t me, I hope someone gets it who appreciates it.”
The best feature
Mr. Meire says the views across the treetops allow the family to watch the changing light and distant storms rolling in.
“You can see from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and the tip of Bowen Island,” he says. “It’s an ocean view from most rooms of the house.”
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