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BlackCliff House

A Home on a Cliff between Mountain and Sea

McLeod Bovell

BlackCliff House
By Elisa Grossi -

When they wake up in the mornings, the denizens of BlackCliff House, West Vancouver, are immersed in a blue expanse of ocean; at night, they are lulled to sleep by the lapping sound of the waves and in contact with nature, trees, light, eagles and killer whales.

Perched on a granite cliff overlooking the sea, the residence offers stunning vistas out over the west coast of Canada, and is centrally located with respect to the places where family members live and work around the world.

Designed by Vancouver-based McLeod Bovell Modern Houses, the project is deeply plugged into the site’s topography and natural surroundings. The client wanted the home, which offers a variety of accommodation solutions, as a gathering place for the family’s current and future generations.

The building lays on an irregular 1,000 sq. m polygonal floor plan rotated around its central west and southwest aspects. When designing the residence’s volume, the designers had to take two stringent constraints into account: the clifftop location, and the maximum height permissible under local building regulations. They had to choose one of two directions: either three levels of limited dimensions, or just two of a generous height. The designers pressed for this latter option, adopting a spatial geometry that varies from floor to floor.

The property’s extensive size prompted the designers to cut into the center of the structure and carve out a number of outdoor spaces. These areas, which include the ground level entrance and bamboo courtyard, plus a terrace on the upper floor, dissolve the boundary between outdoor and indoor, ensuring that as much light and air flows into the interior spaces as possible.

The site’s topography was both a challenge and an opportunity, given that it was by no means simple to manage a construction site high above the sea. Nevertheless, the design took full advantage of the steeply sloping...

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