The Escarpment Urban Retreat House

Calgary, Canada | Contemporary Residential

3 Dining Room and Foyer

On an escarpment overlooking the Bow River valley and downtown Calgary, is an Urban Retreat designed to please its engaging Owners. The small lot had to fit a busy family of four who loves entertaining their large extended family, and have the ability to enjoy outdoor gatherings.

The home was strategically sited on the property, making efficient use of its footprint. Its thoughtful floor plan incorporates both private and public spaces as well as a garage that has the ability to store and park eight vehicles.

"Its thoughtful floor plan incorporates both private and public spaces as well as a garage that has the ability to store and park eight vehicles."

 

The stair was conceived as a large corkscrew stair/light well accessing all three levels of the house while providing interesting views and a passive chimney for ventilation.

Working with the local codes that required all residences to shield themselves from adjacent houses, started with a two storybedroom/office/ kitchen and utility wing to line one side of the lot and a large stone fireplace wall with wine display to protect the opposite side.

Between the two shielding structures a two story glass lantern, enclosing the great room, was placed to rotate the view of downtown Calgary out the front of the home. This tall, windowed core creates a central space filled with light throughout the day, allowing the Montana honey ledge stone to absorb the sun’s energy during the winter while being protected by overhangs during the summer.

The Owners assembled a collaborative team of professionals who creatively fit all of their needs, and more, into the exceptional lot. The Architect, working with the local codes that required all residences to shield themselves from adjacent houses, started with a two story bedroom / office / kitchen and utility wing to line one side of the lot and a large stone fireplace wall with wine display to protect the opposite side. Between the two shielding structures a two story glass lantern, enclosing the great room, was placed to rotate the view of downtown Calgary out the front of the home. This tall, windowed core creates a central space filled with light throughout the day, allowing the Montana honey ledge stone to absorb the sun’s energy during the winter while being protected by overhangs during the summer.

The Owners assembled a collaborative team of professionals who creatively fit all of their needs, and more, into the exceptional lot. The Architect, working with the local codes that required all residences to shield themselves from adjacent houses, started with a two story bedroom / office / kitchen and utility wing to line one side of the lot and a large stone fireplace wall with wine display to protect the opposite side. Between the two shielding structures a two story glass lantern, enclosing the great room, was placed to rotate the view of downtown Calgary out the front of the home. This tall, windowed core creates a central space filled with light throughout the day, allowing the Montana honey ledge stone to absorb the sun’s energy during the winter while being protected by overhangs during the summer.

The master suite offers views of the river valley and downtown with an adjoining lounge and outdoor patio. The ensuite features a ‘his and her’ almond-shaped vanity island with translucent shoji screens, lighting the space.

The word “basement” was banned throughout the design process. Generous light wells were created on the south side to reflect sunlight through the mirrored exercise area to balance light with the skylights above the stairway, filling the lower level with natural light.

Key to the execution of the project was Doug Rawlyk, the Contractor, who rarely rolled his eyes (that we could see, anyway) as we planned all this out. Doug and his exceptional team placed a commercial parking structure on a tight residential site with poor soils under a well-crafted, energy saving, beautiful house.

To add the final materials and finish touches, the Owners collaborated with the premier Calgary Interior Design team of McIntyre Bills. Through their vision, the elegant jewel box kitchen sparkles while being very functional, the stainless steel fireplace surround is elegantly placed around large format basalt floor tile, and many incredible fabrics and furniture pieces grace the house. McIntyre said keeping the palette grounded in nature was important, “Even though it’s contemporary, there’s a natural-ness to the house, to the colors of the stone and the wood and the floor.”

Energy Notes:

  • Passive daylight penetrates and soaks into the house and onto its stone, radiant floors during winter aiding its thermal mass, while being protected by overhangs during the bright summers.
  • Translucent walls were created to share light between several rooms, for the winter months of lower light.
  • All trees on site abided by the local Heritage Tree Conservation Program 
  • The large, angled living area extends the view out from the small back yard area to gain the long views across the alley and into the trees between neighborhood houses.
  • Designing with light and leveraging the view makes the house feel like part of the beauty of this special property and brings the Owners closer to nature.
  • Water-saving fixtures and appliances were used, as well as high efficiency mechanical systems.

 

(Photos are courtesy of Phil Crozier)

With great Owners and an amazing team of collaborative designers, the Escarpment House joyfully fits its active, loving family in a small property with elegant grace and beauty.