In Metchosin, just 30 minutes from Victoria, where rural life meets the rugged west coast and summons people from urban centres, it would be safe to assume that ultramodern architecture isn’t always in the local building code. Situated on an impressive 68-acres of tree-lined pastoral property, including a rare 1400-feet of low-bank oceanfront, Swanwick ranch is considered one Canada’s finest modern luxury oceanfront estates.
A tour de force of modern architecture, the house has received two prestigious design awards: the Canadian National Architects Award in 2006 and the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Architecture and Environment Design in 2008. Custom designed by Vancouver architect, Marko Simcic, of Simcic and Uhrich Architects, the idyllic west coast sanctuary has been featured in multiple international architectural and design publications.
Exceptional achievement in modern technology and environmental design, the architectural vision was to seamlessly connect the home to the surrounding natural landscape. “Swanwick ranch is not only architecturally stunning, but paired with its progressive technology, it’s a forward-thinking luxury property,” says Scott Piercy of Engel and Völkers, Victoria’s luxury real estate brokerage. Having experienced the property first-hand, Piercy adds that “an incredible amount of detail was put into the design and construction of this estate and, with the expansive oceanfront land, it is almost impossible to replicate; the value is incomparable.”
Capitalizing on the expansive views across the Pacific Ocean to Victoria and sensitively integrating with the natural environment, the design weaves through the aged Garry oaks and creates an effortless access to the beach. The home is equipped with innovative environmental design and progressive technology; its mechanical and electrical systems can be monitored and accessed online from anywhere in the world.
Perhaps the most palpable architectural feature of the property is the ten-foot-wide, salt water canyon river that is open to the sky and runs through the middle of the house. The canyon’s avant-garde technology controls the temperature of the house via hydrothermal radiant energy. Obviously not merely a functional feature, the luxurious canyon echoes the home’s natural waterfront aesthetic; surrounded by etched-glass walls with inset lighting and cascading waterfalls, the canyon suffuses a rippling water reflection into the house yielding a sensorial ocean experience.
Cantilevered on either side of the architectural canyon, the home’s facade hovers out over an ambling path to the ocean. Structurally, cantilevers are anchored only on one end and allowing for overhang, create a streamlined, modern aesthetic. A defining feature of modernist architecture, cantilevering is most famously exemplified by Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1935 masterpiece, Fallingwater. A clever solution to reduce the environmental footprint, cantilevers allow architects to build on steep terrains while capitalizing on outdoor vistas. Visually and spatially exciting, cantilevers allow vegetation to grow around the building, constructing a modern profile.
Built by Anderson Cove Construction in 2006, the impeccably planned 9,000 square-foot, six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home nudges the boundaries of modern design to possess an expansive interior that communicates visually. Connection a major theme of the design, balconies and bridges interconnect spaces that afford moments of conversation across sweeping distances.
Vaulted ceilings, decks, terraces, glass, and skylights create a seamless connection to the outdoors while west facing, floor-to-ceiling windows, allow light to infuse the entire home. The home is a stunning example of how modern architecture can successfully marry with rural oceanfront property.
Piercy explains that “Engel & Völkers has access to the international market as one of the world’s leading real estate companies specializing in the sale of premium residential property and commercial real estate. With over 600 offices in 38 countries, we work with affluent international buyers of premium luxury properties like Swanwick ranch.” It’s not every day a property like this enters the Vancouver Island real estate market, but it generates attention and international awareness of Vancouver Island and all that our coast has to offer.
Local legend circulates that this piece of land was exceptionally special to iconic west coast artist, Emily Carr. Drawn to its natural beauty, Carr is said to have come to this particular pastoral, Garry oak-lined landscape to inspire her paintings and drawings. One of her most famed pieces, Metchosin, 1935-1936, currently hangs in the Vancouver Art Gallery. Whether this municipal myth is true or not, we do know Carr was inspired by the rugged, woodsy beauty of Metchosin. As art collectors themselves, the original owners of Swanwick ranch commissioned painter, David Ladmore, to create nearly 100 paintings for their 9,000-square-feet of gallery white walls. A fusion of classical and contemporary aesthetics, of art and science, both David and Laurie Ladmore created the Swanwick collection to adorn the walls of this architecturally exquisite home.
“Sixty-eight acres of natural surroundings and low-bank waterfront doesn’t happen often; it’s definitely not an everyday west coast build,” adds Piercy. “The recreational amenities alone are unique to this property and include: a gorgeous covered swimming pool overlooking the ocean, hot tub, professional tennis court with night lighting, games and entertainment rooms, and the piece de resistance an attached boathouse with direct access to the ocean from the home. There really is something for everyone, even a fully equipped workshop with a shop standard auto-servicing bay for the car enthusiast. With guest accommodation as well as a separate caretaker’s residence, the entire property was built to sensitively co-exist with it’s natural surroundings.”