Project: Sooke house
Architects: Campos Studio
Author: Javier Campos
Builder: Paul Clarkston
Location: Sooke, British Colombia, Canada
Area: 1450sq ft
Photography: Ema Peter
Text by Campos Studio
The Sooke house, made for a woman and her dog sits on a rocky knoll where the forest meets the sea. A small clearing nested among the trees upon the knoll provides slices of ocean and mountains through the trunks of the large pacific northwest rainforest. These fractured and partial perceptions of the forest and its surroundings gave us inspiration to design a house that framed discreet experiences; as a way to make present the maxim that you cannot see the forest through the trees.
After camping on the site, the design team drew inspiration from being in the forest and eschewed the traditional impetus to place a house on the edge of the forest looking out into the ocean. The rocky knoll, at the high point of the site, emerged as the natural place that organized the site. It was the place where everyone congregated to observe and socialize. Recognized as such, the decision was taken to leave this area intact and envelop it with the house.
The forest, a series of Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Cedars trunks supporting their foliage high up in the air became our inspiration for the tectonic of the house. The house structure organized around one proportioned concrete column rising out of the floor mimics the trees trunks in size and scale. This column, along with the wood stove pipe, recreate and integrate the house with the rhythm of the forest.
When one looks up from the forest floor one becomes aware of the protection provided by the large branches that spread from the trunks of the trees with the light filtering through the dense filigree of the needles. The meandering ridge beam that branches along the main space supports a thin slat wood ceiling meant to evoke the canopy of these surrounding conifers.
The experience of the forest from the house was replicated in the house by organizing each space around a different abstracted view of the landscape. A series of forest vistas through each room present different aspects of the forest, to views of the trunks, tree canopy, shoreline, ocean and mountains. This not only serves to recreate the all encompassing forest experience but also to create a unique environment for each space in the house. A technique that creates rich variety for a small house in the woods.