ISSUE 58  |  On the Mountain

Landscape Architect Visit: A Snowy Mountain Lodge

February 06, 2013 2:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Funnily enough, one of the biggest challenges in landscaping a family lodge built against a backdrop of some of the world’s most spectacular high peaks was the view. “The house sits opposite Whistler and Blackcomb mountains,” says Vancouver-based landscape architect Paul Sangha. “We didn’t want the architecture and the gardens to fight that view.” Here’s how he persuaded all those elements to harmonize:

Photographs via Paul Sangha.


Above: A pool and heated covered lounge space attached to a guest house (as well as the garden that surrounds the terraced area) all have an intentionally muted palette to blend with the “gray city” of nearby Vancouver and the environs. Local, rustic materials were chosen to complement the natural surroundings. Boulders and the stone walls are local Whistler basalt and can be used as seating. “We had a lot of fun; we went out to a quarry and handpicked stone with rugged faces,” says Mr. Sangha.


Above: “We brought the boulders to the site and fitted them to the pool before the stone and the tiles were set, so the other materials fit up against them,” says Mr. Sangha. “It was important that it felt as if they had been first in place, rather than added on.”

The terrace is paved in 3-inch thick pieces of bullnosed Pennsylvania bluestone and the walls are clad in local basalt.


Above: The pool is tiled with Beijing Leaf Green Slate, cut down to 4-by-4-inch squares and then tumbled to create soft edges. “The tile we chose has a wonderful color quality, because it draws you to go into the pool but at same time I wanted the water to have a sort of glacial melt water quality,” says Mr. Sangha. The slightly green tile that takes on that mineral color you would get from glacial melt water.”


Above: “With the planting, I wanted to blend in with forest that was there,” says Mr. Sangha . He selected species of pine and spruce that wouldn’t get as tall as native species so that over time, even after they reached full height, it wouldn’t be necessary to cut off the tops to maintain the views.

The pines and spruces he planted include Pinus leucodermis (Bosnian Pine), Pinus nigra ‘Hornbrookiana’ (Hornbrookiana Austrian Pine), Picea omorika (Serbian Spruce), Pinus uncinata (Mountain Pine), and Tsuga mertensiana (Mountain Hemlock).


Above: Two stories below the pool on the steep lot, the driveway’s pattern was created using tumbled granite bricks and ct granite pavers laid in a leaf pattern. “It’s almost a welcome mat to the front stairs and front entry,” Mr. Sangha said.

The pattern is about 30 feet across and fits in turnaround in driveway.


Above: Two stories of bluestone stairs connect the driveway to the house and pool area above. The change in elevation was a challenge. “It’s designed so you don’t really get a sense you’re climbing the number of stairs you are,” says Mr. Sangha. “You end up meandering through the garden and not realizing you’ve made a two-story grade change.”


Above: The caps on the basalt walls are cast-in-place concrete with bullnose details.


Above: “This project was all about the craftsmanship, which you can see in the work–talented stone masons, tile layers, also you see it in the iron work,” says Mr. Sangha. “It was about taking a tradition of craftsmanship you could find in European homes and putting into the context of this rustic Whistler location.”

For another rustic retreat, see “Family Camp: Nettly Wood Compound.”