Modern architecture explores the intersection where design meets the physical environment. Inspired by the land itself, modern design pushes the limits of form, materials and function. 519 Design + Build specializes in designing thoughtful, site-specific modern homes. For Geoffrey Wong of 519 Design + Build, the approach to design is simple, “it is an appropriate conceptual response to the site, its constraints, and the client’s program.” Striving to strike a balance between these three elements, their straightforward designs mirror the sensibilities of the best-known modern architects.
Bringing their northern European Scandinavian architectural background to the project, architects Chris Foyd and Peter Johannknecht push the geometric waterfront home toward a simple and timeless design. While modernism is prone to conjure monochromatic images of stark rooms with a minimal feel, this angular home in Oak Bay is a refreshing surprise. Gallery-white walls accentuate the clean lines while the prominent Douglas fir accents and pairings of new and vintage polychromatic furnishings keep the home relaxed and inviting.
Speaking to the home’s essence that modernism is a philosophy rather than a style, Wong highlights that the most prominent feature of the residence is its orientation. With an emphasis on horizontal lines, organic materials and expansive corner windows, the intention was to create a visual connection with the outdoors.
“With regard to livability, we take the best of each site that we work with and ensure that these elements are the driving force behind the design. Aspects such as daylight and views ensure that every room is in the best possible position for that particular site.”
Choosing simple materials that reflect their credo of timelessness, 519 Design + Build strive to use place-sensitive materials that will wear well. Slate floor tiles were used for their hard-wearing, waterproof and stain resistant qualities. A sustainable option, Doulas fir on the cantilevered island echoes the wood on the window casings and built-ins. Often used by architects and designers for its impressive regenerative nature, fir is heavy-duty and moisture resistant.
A wall of vertical grain fir cabinetry adds to the functionality of the kitchen and disguises the refrigerator to maintain the streamlined look and flow of the kitchen. “In our opinion, good modernism is timeless, a direct response to where we are now. If we assign a historic aspect to the design, the result is a home that gets frozen into a timeframe that’s locked, limiting the scope of the project.”
Almost invisible, the grout-less glass backsplash is a fresh alternative to tile and offers a touch of shine next to the matte finished cabinetry.
Corner windows on opposite ends of the home keep the house illuminated no matter what time of day. “The view and the light that you enjoy in every room is what makes a home special. Given the location, with the panorama available from sunrise through to sunset, the quality of the light evolves throughout the day and the house takes the broadest advantage of this.”
Obviously not an afterthought in the design, the floating wood staircase maintains the open airy feel and hovers above the identical staircase leading downstairs.
Clerestory windows illuminate the staircase and hall while maintaining the home’s privacy.
“Without a doubt, modern design is increasing in popularity. Not only regarding house design but also in the way people are choosing to furnish their homes. Mid-century modern furniture has never been more popular. There is a growing popularity for a clean, honest modern aesthetic rather than a fake historic pastiche.”