Sneak a Peek at One of This Year’s Modern Home Tour Houses
A new development company wants to demonstrate that truly sustainable design is beautiful, too.
When builder Nick Kerchum of Natural Balance Homes teamed up with David Battersby and Heather Howat of BattersbyHowat Architects to create a development company, they knew they didn’t want to enter Vancouver’s spec market with just any kind of home. Instead, their new company, Seachange, would be working to get buyers to rethink how they look at sustainability.
Their homes are designed to be healthy and beautiful—and also incredibly energy efficient and often off-grid. Materials are sourced from ethical companies—there’s value placed on the provenance of materials in both where they come from and how they are made, so Seachange emphasizes local resources and artistry. And because this is BattersbyHowat (a winner in this year’s Designers of the Year Awards), great architecture is also part of that sustainable vision. “We are going to invest in good architecture, to do it well, to do unique buildings that people will have for a long time—and that other people will desire in the future,” says Battersby.
For their first project, which will be showcased in the MA+DS Vancouver Modern Home Tour on September 15, the home itself is in an unusual parallelogram shape: the east side of the wall is pulled back, which has the effect of creating a view corridor of downtown and the North Shore. That view continues throughout the home, all the way up to the circular rooftop deck. “It’s really interesting when you have people on a circular deck, as opposed to a rectangular one,” says Kerchum. “When you have people on the roof deck, it naturally brings them together. The way people use that space is much different—it creates a more intimate and connected space.”
The 3,850-square-foot house is also designed to capture rainwater and keep it from overloading the city of Vancouver’s stormwater system: two large tanks in the ground retain water for household use such as irrigation and sewer lines, and they also filter the water to slowly allow it to return to the ground, rather than flooding the city’s storm lines during heavy rainfall.
It’s stunning inside and out—from a central concrete feature wall that runs on all three levels to the floating staircase that’s an engineering feat, the home is made to feel both beautiful and functional, a building meant to stand the test of time. “If you design and build a house to a high quality that captures the magic of the lot, that house will never be torn down,” says Kerchum. “A home that lasts a long time is a sustainable home, and that’s something that’s missed.”