I was wowed recently on a trip to Vancouver, B.C. with how lush and green the city and surrounding area is, and how residents seem to value this natural phenomenon and incorporate it into their lifestyles. Parks are abundant, rooftop gardens are on countless skyscrapers and downtown buildings, and vines and plants are allowed to grow up and around city infrastructure. The thing that impressed me most, though, are the homes and how they are in harmony with their stunning natural surroundings.
West coast architecture is organic and distinctive to the Pacific northwestern coasts of Canada and the U.S. It is significantly influenced by revered architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who was quoted as saying, "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
Hotchkiss House by Scott Edwards
One of Wright's most well-known mentees was Arthur Erickson, a Vancouver-born architect who left his stamp on Vancouver homes and city developments. Erickson said "Architecture, as I see it, is the art of composing spaces in response to existing environmental and urbanistic conditions to answer a client's needs. In this way the building becomes the resolution between its inner being and the outer conditions imposed upon it. It is never solitary but is part of its setting and thus must blend in a timeless way with its surroundings yet show its own fresh presence."
Smith House by Erickson
Erickson was obviously plugged in to the current slow home idea of building homes that will last and be relevant for many generations. His homes use wood, exposed beams, and indoor-outdoor spaces with sweeping views of the coastal surroundings. Erickson's homes, like true west coast homes, were built not on top of the land, but as a part of it, designed to fit in as a piece of a whole.
Graham house by Arthur Erickson
As you can see from this home of Erickson's, the oldest left standing in Vancouver, the simplicity of clean lines and earth-inspired design are integrated seamlessly.
The trend today toward minimalist design fits perfectly with west coast architectural style, and proves that simple and live-able design that harmonizes with our natural surroundings will always remain relevant and modern.