The Rock

A private residence perched upon a rocky outcrop in Whistler

View of dense tall trees and elevation of the house arranged around a rocky outcrop.
Concept sketch showing a floating roof over spaces carved into rock
Watercolour sketch made during the initial competition site visit
The Rock - Main living concept sketch
Sketch of the main living volume in colour pencil
Concept sketch showing a floating roof over spaces carved into rock
One of the earliest sketches, showing a floating roof over spaces carved into and growing out of the existing rock
Watercolour sketch made during the initial competition site visit
Sketches recording site experiences made during the initial competition visit informed the project throughout
The Rock - Main living concept sketch
The simple act of enclosing the Rock’s crest with a roof captures a space that frames panoramic views
Sketch of the main living volume in colour pencil
Sketch of the main living volume during design development post-competition

This project is the winning design for an invited competition to build an exceptional private residence in the Canadian mountain resort of Whistler. This exemplary new-build family home is perched upon a distinctive rocky outcrop above Alta Lake, across which it enjoys beautiful views of the surrounding mountain range. Considering how to approach this challenging topography, we recalled a passage from the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1932 autobiography: ‘No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together, each the happier for the other.’ This would become the founding principle of the design.

Our proposal sought to reconcile several contradictions: expansive views and living spaces while maintaining a sense of intimacy; maximising inhabitable area while maintaining an understated appearance from public view.

1:50 scale developed design model
1:200 scale concept model
1:100 scale design development model
1:50 scale competition model – east elevation
1:50 scale competition model – main view
1:50 scale developed design model
1:50 scale developed design model
1:200 scale concept model
1:200 scale concept model
1:100 scale design development model
1:100 scale design development model
1:50 scale competition model – east elevation
1:50 scale competition model – east elevation
1:50 scale competition model – main view
1:50 scale competition model – main view
View of the Rock's main living areas with a unifying timber slatted ceiling
View of Alta Lake from the main living area with the Rock's crest in the foreground
Interior view at the main entrance
View at bottom of the main stair
View of the main living area with its double-height lantern
View of the Rock's main living areas with a unifying timber slatted ceiling
The main living areas, with a unifying timber slatted ceiling defining different spaces
View of Alta Lake from the main living area with the Rock's crest in the foreground
View of Alta Lake from the main living area with the Rock’s crest in the foreground
Interior view at the main entrance
Interior view at the main entrance
View at bottom of the main stair
The bottom of the main stair, with route to basement areas concealed
View of the main living area with its double-height lantern
The main living area, bound by a two-sided fireplace and double-height lantern
Top-lit double-height hall and sculpture gallery
Internal view of the concrete entrance hall with large windows to the landscape
View from dark to light at the base of the main stair
Detail showing boardmarked concrete, timber ribbed ceiling and joinery, brass handrail and cast glass internal light
Detail of the inside-outside dining area with expansive landscape views
View from the main living area towards the pool and guest house
The base of a stairwell connecting all floors of the main house
A key landing at the junction of two stairs with a continuous brass handrail
View of a timber-lined stair
Views of nearby trees from a corridor within the guest house lantern, lined in local hemlock
Top-lit double-height hall and sculpture gallery
A sculpture gallery along a corridor culminates in a double-height hall carved into the rock
Internal view of the concrete entrance hall with large windows to the landscape
The entrance hall, evoking qualities of being within the rocky landscape
View from dark to light at the base of the main stair
A long, gentle ascent transitions from dark to light towards the main living areas
Detail showing boardmarked concrete, timber ribbed ceiling and joinery, brass handrail and cast glass internal light
Living area materials: boardmarked concrete, timber ribbed ceiling and joinery, brass handrail and cast glass internal light
Detail of the inside-outside dining area with expansive landscape views
The inside-outside dining area, with expansive landscape views
View from the main living area towards the pool and guest house
View from the main living area towards the pool and guest house
The base of a stairwell connecting all floors of the main house
The base of a stairwell connecting all floors of the main house
A key landing at the junction of two stairs with a continuous brass handrail
A key landing at the junction of two stairs with a continuous brass handrail; note the bespoke brass door handle cast from a pear and used throughout the house
View of a timber-lined stair
A stair forms part of the main circulation in the timber-lined upper volume
Views of nearby trees from a corridor within the guest house lantern, lined in local hemlock
Views of nearby trees from a corridor within the guest house lantern, lined in local hemlock
The master bathroom forms part of one of the house's lanterns
Glimpses of the master bedroom from its walk-in wardrobe
The study lantern, with blue-stained joinery
The main kitchen, with immersive woodland views
Terraced living areas, viewed from the crest of the existing rock
The master bathroom forms part of one of the house's lanterns
The master bathroom forms part of one of the house’s lanterns
Glimpses of the master bedroom from its walk-in wardrobe
Glimpses of the master bedroom from its walk-in wardrobe
The study lantern, with blue-stained joinery
The study lantern, with blue-stained joinery
The main kitchen, with immersive woodland views
The main kitchen is immersed in a woodland setting
Terraced living areas, viewed from the crest of the existing rock
The main living areas feel like they are part of a series of terraces leading up to the crest of the existing rock
View of The Rock from Whistler's Lakeside Park
Pool terrace view of the Study volume end elevation with a firepit sculpture
The Rock's roof terrace animated by shadows in the late afternoon
West Elevation of the Main House at dusk
Western end of the Main House at dusk, with Alta Lake visible in the distance
View of The Rock from Whistler's Lakeside Park
View of The Rock from Whistler’s Lakeside Park
Pool terrace view of the Study volume end elevation with a firepit sculpture
The bold end elevation of the study volume, with a firepit sculpture on the pool terrace
The Rock's roof terrace animated by shadows in the late afternoon
A panoramic roof terrace above the main living areas offers yet another perspective
West Elevation of the Main House at dusk
Western end of the Main House at dusk, with Alta Lake visible in the distance
View of the guest house with its reflection in the pool
Pool and hot tub detail
Steam rising from the hot tub in the morning sun
Main House west corner detail
Western end of the Main House amongst trees
View of The Rock catching late afternoon sun from across Alta Lake
View of the guest house with its reflection in the pool
The guest house, with its reflection in the pool
Pool and hot tub detail
The pool and hot tub form part of connecting terraces between main and guest houses
Steam rising from the hot tub in the morning sun
Steam rising from the hot tub in the morning sun
Main House west corner detail
Western end of the Main House amongst trees
View of The Rock catching late afternoon sun from across Alta Lake
View of The Rock catching late afternoon sun from across Alta Lake

Living in The Rock is a special experience… Many architects, through their work, create art and alter environments. A few, like Gort Scott, transform lives.

Private client
Interior sketch showing the base of the main stair
Sketch showing how the main stair retraces contours of the existing landscape
Interior sketch showing music room
Interior sketch showing the view towards the guest house from the main living area
Early interior sketch of the study lantern
Interior sketch showing the base of the main stair
An early sketch showing the base of the main stair rising from a space carved into the rock
Sketch showing how the main stair retraces contours of the existing landscape
The main stair retraces contours of the existing landscape
Interior sketch showing music room
Interior sketch describing the look and feel of the music room
Interior sketch showing the view towards the guest house from the main living area
Interior sketch showing the view towards the guest house from the main living area
Early interior sketch of the study lantern
Early interior sketch of the study lantern
Film by Tapio Snellman

The design evolved from a sensitive site analysis involving deep appreciation of the site’s natural beauty, which was explored at the outset through time spent on-site in different weather conditions and times of the day; sketching and observing the changing light.

The project comprises a main residence, guest-house, and outdoor pool within a series of landscaped levels cut into and built out of the rock. Gort Scott also designed the high-end interiors including bespoke fittings.

View of Alta Lake from the main living area with the Rock's crest in the foreground
View of Alta Lake from the main living area with the Rock’s crest in the foreground

Further information

Data

Location
Whistler, Canada
Project type
Private houses
Status
Completed 2018
Floor area
980m2

Credits

Gort Scott Team
Jay Gort, Fiona Scott, Joe Mac Mahon, Andrew Tam, Sarah Cook, James Powell, Rebecca Stephens, Nadine Coetzee, Tom Hamilton, Adam Walls
Collaborators
Kat Sullivan (building technician), Equilibrium (structures), MCW (building services), Hapa Collaborative (landscape), GVH Consulting (geotechnical), JRS Engineering (envelope), Alka Pool (pool), Millson (AV), Eos Lightmedia (lighting)
Contractors
Dürfeld Constructors (main contractor), Leon Lebeniste (joinery)
Client representative
Mabel Law
Video
Tapio Snellman
Sound and music
Adam Lieber
Photography
Rory Gardiner, David Grandorge (models)

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