mid-century modern : 1384 burnside road, west vancouver

designed by : barry downs

built by : ? in 1967 [2018 – listed for 6.34mil]

short write up by the realtor:

barry downs – renowned for melding architecture with landscape & his philosophy of respecting natural topography & nature of the site; designed this 3,000 sq ft 2 level 4 bedroom home in 1967. the innovative design seamlessly blends stunning features of this .8 of an acre sloping lot, with an open plan interior allowing for a continuous flow between living areas, while taking advantage of stunning outdoor vistas; be it an enchanted forest trail set alongside brothers creek or views of the city skyline. with privacy & nature as the theme, a blend of floor to ceiling windows, a linear skylight spanning the roof line, angles & open spaces create an aesthetically exciting & pleasing home. now painstakingly restored to preserve a stunning example of west coast modernism – a rare find in today’s market.

also check out the flip book for the property : quite a nicely produced booklet.

west vancouver modern home tour 2016

another fantastic set of houses was featured at this year’s tour. all were modern yet with lots of history as they all had been renovated throughout their life.

The 1956 Switzer/Hermanville Residence was built by Henry A. Switzer, who would later gain local fame with his second pink-exterior house on Mathers Street at Taylor Way. Before building that four-wing cantilevered house in the Googie architectural style, Switzer designed a classic 1950s house with some unique features on Sentinel Hill. Original elements of the home include curving, wood-paneled walls, open living spaces and a gourmet kitchen boasting scenic mountain views.


The 1958 Dawson/Purdie Residence is by renowned architect Ron Thom, who designed the house to feature traditional wood framing, stud walls and a low pitched roof. Inside the house are distinctly angular forms arranged by a hexagonal grid. The main living area is set high above a rocky knoll to take advantage of stunning ocean views. Renovations by Russell Hollingsworth simplified the divisions of space and introduced a skylight that brightens and animates the interior. Barry Downs designed an entry garden, walls and gateway, making the approach to the house a pleasant experience.


Set into sloping bedrock, the three-level 1961 Ray Residence by Daniel White is a fine example of West Coast modern architecture influenced by a Japanese aesthetic. After fifty years, the house had badly deteriorated and needed a great deal of work. Jim Ferguson and Jan Pidhirny, whose previous renovations include Ron Thom’s 1957 Carmichael Residence, took up the challenge over a year ago and have completely transformed the house into a stunning contemporary West Coast modern home.


The 1966 Dick/Smith Residence, designed by Barry Downs while he was a partner at Hollingsworth and Downs, embodies sensitive West Coast modern design principles. The house is approached through a mature stand of Douglas firs and has terraced gardens covering the sloped site. Living spaces feel seamlessly connected to the lush landscape and views of nature are carried indoors through strip windows with mitered-glass projections. Cedar woodwork throughout the house adds warmth and texture.


One of fourteen waterfront units comprising seven duplexes designed by Russell Hollingsworth in 1988, our fifth home on the tour was recently renovated to showcase the best of West Coast modern style. Featuring expansive views of Burrard Inlet to the south and the mountains to the north, this three-storey home features wood framing, high ceilings and miles of windows to bring the outside in.

From its understated entrance through a leafy-green courtyard, to its elegant, open plan interiors featuring newly-installed custom cabinetry, fixtures, furnishings, and flooring inspired by the textures and colours of the beach nearby, the home’s renovations embody the architect’s original vision for the complex as a perfect confluence of building and site, materials and style.

the houses weren’t as photogenic as other years so I will leave it to the experts this time:

check out hadani ditmar’s wallpaper article here.

check out western living’s article on the dick/smith residence here.

check out western living’s article on the russell hollingsworth duplex here.

west vancouver museum’s facebook photo page has oodles of images from the tour here.

west vancouver modern home tour 2014

the west vancouver museum’s ninth annual home tour took place on july 12th. five homes that exude the west coast modern aesthetic and lifestyle were featured on the tour, including one home under reconstruction with a new modern dwelling to be built on steep slope facing the ocean.

wv2014tourcheck out some of the photos from the tour:


west vancouver modern home tour 2013

the west vancouver museum’s eighth annual home tour took place on july 13th. five homes that exude the west coast modern aesthetic and lifestyle were featured on the tour build in various times to explore the way modernism has moved throughout the decades.

designed by ron thom of thompson, berwick and pratt, the 1958 carmichael and 1961 grinnell residences provide an interesting comparison of thom’s work. The carmichael residence embraces complex interlocking hexagonal modules, while the grinnell residence is characterized by a simple rectilinear grid.

as west coast modern architecture started to flourish, local builders adapted the principles of post and beam design. the lewis construction company, the most prolific of these design-build firms, constructed simple cost effective homes including a 1960 house recently renovated by gavin froome, one of the director’s of the film coast modern.

the downs residence II (1979) is a small house by local architect barry downs, who designed for his family. the house embraces an ever-changing coastal environment with views to the ocean. the modulated structure of the house is well integrated into its tranquil site.

in addition to these four homes, tour participants will also visit the recently completed house designed by architect greg dowling, for his family. the slender, horizontal structure projects from a rock precipice, overlooking the ocean and a forested ravine. the design combined concrete, steel  and cross-laminated timber (clt), an advanced timber product designed for durability, sustainability and design flexibility. this house is the first building in north america to use clt as the primary structure for all floors, walls and roofs.

exhibition : barry downs in west vancouver museum

may 8 – june 15 2013
barry_downs_wvm_2opening reception may 14 7pm – 9pm

here is the link  to west vancouver museum.

Barry Downs has been practising architecture for over five decades, first with Thompson Berwick & Pratt Architects, then in partnership with Fred Hollingsworth and, later with Richard Archambault. His projects span a wide range from houses and institutions to community master plans and all are informed by his skilful melding of buildings, gardens and landscape, a fundamental design philosophy that respects the natural topography, ecology and the private and public nature of a site rather than attempting to circumvent it.

The exhibition illustrates this integration through key projects, such as the 1964 Massey Award winning Rayer Residence in West Vancouver, located on a hillside where the buildings bent form embraces a garden, pond and views of forest and ocean to urban settings where landscape provides the essential bonding element. Today, Downs works from his home studio in West Vancouver sited sensitively on the edge of a cliff and overlooking the Strait of Georgia.

book review : selwyn pullan

if you have even a small affinity with vancouver modernism, after picking this book up, you will not be able to put it down or walk out the store without it!

Book synopsis:

The stark beauty of an iconic architectural movement is captured in this rare collection of stunning images.

As an emerging photographer in the 1950s and ’60s, Selwyn Pullan played an important role in popularizing the new style of West Coast modernist architecture.

His photographs capturing Vancouver’s rapidly changing urban landscape appeared regularly in magazines and architectural journals, and helped tout the bold, dramatic architectural ideas thriving on the West Coast. Pullan became known for his ability to contextualize the work of architects through unique composition and tonal range.

He photographed projects for B.C.’s leading architects of the era, including Ron Thom, Fred Hollingsworth, C.E Pratt, Arthur Erickson and Barry Downs. Today, as Vancouver’s architectural landscape changes again, his photographs are all that remain of many of these projects, now demolished or altered beyond recognition. His archive forms a crucial record of a definitive architectural movement. Selwyn Pullan is the first full-length book dedicated to his compelling photographs. An extensive retrospective with beautifully reproduced images, this book’s illuminating texts also put the artist in historical and cultural context.

contributing writers in the book are kiriko watanabe, donald luxton, barry downs and adele weder, as well as the director/curator of west vancouver museum, darrin morrison. kiriko starts the book off with selwyn’s early days and his start in photography. donald’s chapter speaks of selwyn’s projects and west coast modernism as experiences during the 50s and 60s. barry’s chapter is entitled ‘master craftsman’ which at first may be misleading, but goes on to portray selwyn as a true artisan of the photographic image taking great deal in lighting, framing and positioning of his camera and the objects refracting though his lens. adele takes the perspective of his work from today’s point of view and ‘where they are now’ in regards to some of the buildings he has photographed and the future of mid-century modernism in vancouver.

the book is filled with fantastic photographs and will sure to please anyone interested in vancouver’s mid-century modernism.

read more about selwyn pullan here at ouno design blog.

the publisher, douglas & mcintyre, book webpage.

review of selwyn pullan on canadian art website.

go and get your copy early at hager books in kerrisdale (2176 west 41st avenue).

also available at amazon.ca, chapters.ca, oscar’s art books and other fine booksellers.

link to the tyee’s article on the book and exhibition.

tour : west vancouver modern home tour 2010

stegeman residence, erickson/massey architects 1954 – renovation by brian hemingway 2001

helliwell+smith home studio, barry downs/fred hollingsworth architects 1964 – renovation by bluesky architecture inc 2001

this ensuite bathroom was featured in the may 2010 month issue of western living magazine. the article is here for all who are interested. what a great concept in bathroom design having a nice soaker tub with a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking tress and the ocean beyond. of course having a great site doesn’t hurt either.

eagle’s nest house, ron thom 1956

this house may have not been to most prettiest of all, especially from the outside but it sure was cool. the fact that not a single 90 degree corner can be found in the whole house made it quite unique.

a pool that just begged to be swam in. the crazy thing about this pool was that it cantilevered right over the property line and has a drop of about 30 feet down beyond the railings. a house on the adjacent lot (not visible in this photo) was built right into the rock face.

even the stairs were on an angle to the walls.

a nice view to the ocean from all the rooms. probably can do some serious stargazing lying in bed everynight with that skylight above the bed.

 bonus: this recently renovated house at 4192 rose crescent was quite cool looking too. check out the sales listing for this one here.

gordon smith residence, erickson/massey architects 1996

post and beam architecture at its finest. a simple palette of stained wood and glass.

this is looking from the central courtyard towards to carport. at the left is the main bedroom. the floor plan is conceived as a square spiral where you enter at the lowest level and as you progress around the courtyard, each room is stepped up a few steps from the last, ending in the main bedroom. the entry to the house is located just off the image on the right.

a glazed wall overlooking the gardens and a forest view.

detail of the cantilevered roof and heavy timber structure.

underside of ‘bridge’ element which is the living room.

wood block paving in the central courtyard.

original studio.

view of entry from driveway.

exposed aggregate concrete retaining planter walls.

rain forest house, russell hollingsworth, c.1973the approach to the house was a winding road up a steep hill. nestled tightly between old growth cedars is the stone and wood house.

water fountains. water pots. water ponds. everywhere water of all sorts. still water. moving water. evaporated water.

lush landscaping throughout the site. an open carport located under the cantilevered roof to the right.

floor to ceiling wood doors and windows blur the lines of inside and outside. what a great space to be in. there were lots of skylights that made the indoors feel even more like outdoors.

exposed wood rafter roof structure was a great natural material in this west coast modern house.

roof eave detail. the roof comes to a sharp point and no gutters were present.

the cast-in-place concrete steps. the floor inside the home was made of the same concrete.

instead of gutters, a long trough-type drain was found to collect all the rainwater that comes off the roof during rainy season.

a long narrow window gives view from the secondary bedroom to the patio. a ladder gives access to the carport below.

garden with reflecting pond at the sitting room.

feel free to read adele weder’s article published in the globe & mail here.