The Region

THE REGIONAL CONTEXT: BRITISH COLUMBIA

All architecture is regional. Sited in a particular geographic and climatic location, like a plant, rooted in the earth and adapted to its location on earth. Creating patterns of structure, resisting gravity, turning to the light of the sun. The climatic, geographic, & cultural characteristics of a region determine the initial context for architectural design.The coast of British Columbia has a specific kind of light, heavy Pacific rainfalls, regular cloud cover, and spectacular coastal forests on mountain fiords that reach down into the sea. These regional climatic and geographic elements are a major influence on residential design in the Pacific Northwest.

THE LIGHT

There is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere of the West Coast of British Columbia year round. Tiny water droplets reflect, disperse,and absorb the rays of sunlight and create a “light fill” condition in which the whole sky becomes the light source. This diffuse light softens form, and diminishes the clarity of smaller details. Large overhangs shade light from the windows, so larger windows, skylights, and open floor plans allow the light back in, conserving energy and ensuring a strong connection with rhythmic solar patterns that vary throughout the seasons. Orientation is important to take advantage of this pattern.

THE RAIN

The Pacific Northwest is known as a rainforest climate. Cloud cover, moist air, and rain are common. Roof overhangs and entry areas need to be deeper to protect the structure from moisture and provide a larger area of shelter next to the walls. Large quantities of rain water must be handled by roof design and roof drainage systems. Rain catchment systems can help to reduce and conserve water use where applicable.

THE CONNECTION TO NATURE

The same ocean that brings moisture to the coastal land mass also creates a milder climate, allowing a lifestyle with strong connections to the outdoors. Interior spaces are extended outwards through sliding, glass doors or fixed panes of glass, to terraces & decks, and gardens, opening the interior to views of the beautiful natural landscape. The giant trees of fir and cedar provide an ideal structural material; strong, easy to work, beautiful in colour, renewable, and warm to touch. At the same time, the forests provide inspiration for structural, water containment and dispersal systems, from micro to macro scale.