White Rock, BC

West Beach

A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable.

– Cass Parel, Architect

West Beach "OShaun"

An original White Rock hillside cottage tear down from the 1940’s, old West Beach held many memories for my wife Shauna and I.  We were sad to say good bye to the cottage but took great joy in designing a home for ourselves on the hillside that followed the beautiful lay of the land.

In reflection, as a young boy growing up at the beach in White Rock, I would fondly look across at the Semiahmoo Bay to Blaine, Washington and admire the water tower and cannery, known today as the Semiahmoo Resort. We were inspired by the Blaine cannery for its rusty metal industrial exterior and the White Rock Pier with its chunky rough wood columns and planks.

The Burlington Northern Railway has always had a historical presence running along the White Rock waterfront and as the trains slide by, so do the lively canvases of graffiti on the railcars. Loving bright colours and the freedom of the art, we chose Danny Simpson, a graffiti artist, to shake up his paint cans and tag our garage door. West Beach proudly shows off the Pacific Ocean splashing into the shore in graffiti style as “OShaun” was created.   (“O”wen and “Shaun”a – Metaphor for “Ocean”).

The 3 floors of the Minimal Glass Company folding door system open up OShaun to the sweeping panoramic views of Blaine, Mount Baker, the Southern Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen. Thoughtful details include using the original fir beams from the cottage for posts on the stairway and landing, reclaimed wood for the powder room vanity, “NO PARKING” fence boards reclaimed from the White Rock Muffler shop which once sat at the bottom of Oxford Street were used as paneling and a feature wall on the mid level. A  native art piece by Geoff Ross of Indigenous Influences uses panels to cover the TV. Hidden until a gentle finger lifts the art piece using a seine weight and pully mechanism to balance  it. Copper accents on fence posts and exterior entrance add colour and texture. Mixing modern elements with rusty metal and the strength of old growth wood, OShaun stands tall in the salt air just as the early 20th Century fish packing and cannery across the bay has stood the test of time.

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