Monday, May 4, 2009

West Coast Residential

The latest issue of Canadian Architect shines a light on the recent residential work of two Vancouver architects.

Matthew Woodruff's Mayne Island House and Clinton Cuddington's Wolfe Avenue Residence are a study in contrasts within the Modernist framework. While both feature a considered, clean-lined approach to design, emphasizing spatial relationships and attention to light, the differences lie in the detailing, scale and materials used.

Adele Weder contributes an article on Woodruff's house, casting it as a return to the largely forgotten principles of the West Coast Modernist movement. There's an economy of materials and size (1100 sq. ft.) that runs counter to much of the ethos of recent residential design, and a relationship to the site that is elemental. 

Cuddington's residence is a different beast at 5695 sq. ft., with richer materials and more involved detailing. Leslie Jen's article notes there has been some dissention at the scale and grandeur of the place, though it could be argued that it responds appropriately to its site in Shaughnessy. Cuddington encountered opposition to his design early on and it's significant that he was able to push through what is a relatively radical design for the neighborhood. 

The Wolfe residence is a far cry from the modest post and beam houses that were so prominent in Vancouver 50 years ago, but it provides an example of large scale residential that goes beyond McMansions and neo-traditional.

Curiously, Woodruff and Cuddington were partners in Measured Architecture (after serving stints in Bing Thom's office), prior to Woodruff leaving to set up his own practice. Both houses have been profiled in local publications recently, but The Canadian Architect features set them up in a satisfying architectural dialogue. 

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