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

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

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
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
Photography
Rory Gardiner, David Grandorge (models)

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