Downs House II presents an original and comprehensive overview of the home that local architect Barry Downs built for himself in West Vancouver. The site overlooks Howe Sound with a panorama formed by the Coastal Mountain Range of British Columbia. This house of modest proportions presents the key and formative qualities that have come to represent a West Coast Modern idiom in architecture.
With past and beam structure clad in cedar shingles, the house characteristically hovers above the rough terrain while remaining intimately engaged with its forest setting. While the dramatic panorama of the living area provides a signature moment in the experience of the house, a variety of more intimate views of the forest and granite outcrop provide a richly textured and ever-changing backdrop to domestic life.
The house continues to be occupied by the architect and his wife Mary, and is maintained in meticulous condition. Delightful in itself, the Downs House II also offers testimony to a time of creative generosity in which the design of even modest houses served as a place of exploration. In our current era in which architectural culture commonly privileges the experience of individuality and distinction, it is refreshing to be reminded of buildings that are decidedly calm and assured. This is certainly the case with this special house—a house that could be fairly said to be at once unprecedented and singular while remaining utterly familiar.
Downs House II is the second book in the new UBC SALA West Coast Modern House series.