BRITISH COLUMBIA
08/14/2014 02:05 EDT | Updated 08/14/2014 02:59 EDT

This Is Not Chip Wilson's House, But It's Still Exquisite

Vancouver architects Clinton Cuddington and Piers Cunnington are getting a lot of attention for a house they didn't design.

They've been credited with masterminding the $54-million, oceanfront home of Chip Wilson, billionaire founder of Lululemon. The Kitsilano property is valued as the most expensive house in British Columbia and took five years to build.

Except the luxury house cited by several blogs isn't Wilson's pad at all.

Construction of Wilson's luxury home happened at the same time as a 4,700 sq.-ft. addition and renovation designed by the team at Measured Architecture — just three doors down on Point Grey Road.

Cuddington speculates that's where the confusion comes in: "It was the next site that had a crane on it," he told The Huffington Post B.C. "People down on the water's edge may be a bit disoriented and you don't know whose house is whose."

"Chip's house started at least a year before our project started, and then completed a year after," added Cunnington. "And in both situations, both owners bought neigbourhouring lots and consolidated them."

But even without a high-profile owner, the Waterfront House (as the architects dubbed it) is notable for several reasons.

For one thing, it's stunning. The long-time owners wanted a larger garden as well as a "recreation" space. What they ended up with is a seamless flow of old and new against the natural ocean view.

"From our perspective it's a highly unusual project because we were stitching together two lots to try and create some uniformity with a house that had a very distinct character of its own," said Cunnington.

Among the highlights are a pool and hot tub framed with textured limestone and black painted steel, as well as cleverly handcrafted doors.

To reflect the owners' love of cycling and vintage cars, a moveable "window wall" door was built between the indoor hot tub and the outdoor pool. Turner Exhibits, a design fabricator near Seattle, built a crank reminiscent of the wheel of a vintage MG car that cantilevers the door up.

"It's engineered so that a child could crank it open," explained Cunnington.

The garage door is counter-weighted like a cuckoo clock, and drops into a slot in the ground, instead of going up in segments.

"You can see the gears, you can see the weights move. It kind of celebrates the mechanism ... as opposed to being hidden in a funny box at the top of your garage," said Cunnington.

But the pair didn't want to wander too far from the home's original Italian villa feel.

"It was an incredible opportunity for us to soul-search to work with history, rather than to always seek out a clean canvas to unleash a contemporary West Coast modern approach," said Cuddington.

The architects used Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky's images of work on a limestone cliff face for inspiration, as well as expertise and input from tradespeople on the project for a handcrafted finish. They also credit general contractor Todd Murray with Murray-Sims Construction for bringing their plan to life over the two-year construction that finished last fall.

In a city where new homes are built to maximize lots, the architects were able to "pack what they needed" into the hill by excavating down. The addition was actually built between 10 to 15 feet lower than permitted, keeping the view for the nearby apartment building unobstructed (and no doubt earning karma points).

It may not be Chip Wilson's house, but it's still pretty spectacular:

Photo gallery Waterfront House, Vancouver See Gallery

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