Award of Excellence: Hadaway House

Architect Patkau Architects Inc.

Location Whistler, British Columbia

This snow-country house is located on a northwest slope overlooking a panoramic view of Whistler Valley in southwest British Columbia. The site is a difficult wedge shape which offers just enough room for a garage and a narrow entrance on the street side at the top of the slope.

The exterior form of the house is shaped by the intersection of two principal considerations: the first is the allowable building footprint and height, and the second is the need to shed snow from the roof into appropriate storage areas within the site. The sculptural volume that emerges from this intersection of extruded building footprint and folding snow-shed roof is occupied in a manner that maintains the inherent plastic properties of the building form.

The main level is essentially one large space with living, dining and kitchen areas, and an outdoor deck, all of which open up to the valley view. A vertical crevice of space runs under the highest roof ridge, bisecting the warped volume and bringing light into the deepest part of the section and plan. Stairs rise within this rift, and a bridge crosses it at the upper level, connecting master bedroom suite and study. Below, on the lowest level, are more intimate spaces housing guest bedrooms and a second living area, as well as a large service space. Accessible directly from the garage entrance to the house, this service space supports life in snow country–where wet clothes are hung to dry or thrown directly into the laundry, and where skiers can store all the paraphernalia of their day outside. Another stair connects this lower level to an outdoor patio below the house, the only actual access to the steep site other than that at the front entrance.

Construction is hybrid. The slabs and walls which enclose the lower floor are concrete construction, while the uppermost levels are a composite steel and heavy timber structure with wood-frame infill. The entire structure is sheathed with a monolithic screen of open-spaced 2″ x 6″ cedar boards over conventional roof and wall assemblies. The thermal mass of the lower concrete structure dampens temperature swings within the house in summer and winter. And in the summer, the interior is naturally cooled and ventilated by drawing air from the lowest level on the north side of the house to vent at the top of the central rift.

Hariri: These spaces are packed with meaning. The way the corners open up is just marvellous. I love the way the ground just folds right up and becomes the house, and then comes back down. The way the model represents the house is fantastic. It is not just about the folding, but it sort of sits both half in and half on top. It carves down into the site below, but it also perches and looks like it will tip over in some places.

Macy: I was a bit worried about getting into some of the qualities of the spaces inside. It looks gorgeous from the outside in terms of a sculptural object but I was trying to imagine myself in some of the interior spaces. This is an example of a house that acts as a pavilion. It is an artful house that follows the tradition of wanting to be a sculptural object. What’s nice about this project is that it pushes the boundaries in terms of how we understand architecture because you don’t see the floor planes that you are expected to walk on, or the wall planes that you are expected to place furniture against. There are a number of architects, certainly in the 20th century, who have experimented with a lot of these “other” geographies. It definitely pushes the edges in terms of how we can understand space and inhabit it. It is almost like an anti-gravity space. The French have a word for this which is the chef d’oeuvre, or the German meisterwerk. The idea is that you have to be very sophisticated to be able to do something that is so obviously complex. As designers, it is the artfulness that we have to appreciate. A difficult thing to do, and they pulled it off.

Thom: The project is a very tight resolution. The success of this building will depend on its skin. How the house will be skinned will be tricky, but it has a lot of potential.


Client Martin and Susan Hadaway

Architect Team STephanie Coleridge, Lawrence Grigg, John Mcfarlane, Aileen Morales, John Patkau, Patricia Patkau, Peter Suter, Dawson Williams

Structural Equilibrium Consulting Inc.

Contractor Alta Lake Lumber Co.

Area 4,500 ft2

Budget N/A

Completion 2010