Downs House II

Nov 09, 2016

The latest in SALA’s West Coast Modern house series

Downs House II

Perched on a cliff, 120 feet above the Pacific Ocean and the shores of West Vancouver, sits Downs House II. Designed and inhabited by architect Barry Downs, the home is accessible by a foot bridge that preserves the large trees that sweep against its windows and add stability to its slope. It is an iconic West Coast home, one like many others currently under threat.

The rising value of land in the Metro Vancouver area is making homes like the Downs House II susceptible to demolition despite their aesthetic and cultural value. The West Coast Modern house series documents these charismatic homes while they still exist. Written by Professor Chris Macdonald, Downs House II explores the home’s design elements.

He notes that the house is in collaboration with the land. Its layout follows the natural rock sequence as it steps down towards the water, revealing an expansive view of Howe Sound. The home is quite small, a quality that Chris refers to as adding an “intimacy of experience.” Even the shingles on the roof are a reflection of the bark on the trees which surround it.

Downs House II

Downs House II is the second in the West Coast Modern house series. The series in an important monograph of disappearing local artifacts and will have five more publications next year. It is co-edited and curated by Chris Macdonald and Leslie Van Duzer, the book design is by Pablo Mandel, and the new photography is by Michael Perlmutter.


  • House Schumiatcher, house designed by Judah Schumiatcher, written by Leslie Van Duzer (2016)
  • Downs House II, house designed by Barry Downs, written by Chris Macdonald (2016)


  • Binning House, house designed by BC Binning, written by Matthew Soules (spring 2017)
  • Merrick House, house designed by Paul Merrick, written by Anthony Robins (spring 2017)
  • Friedman House, house designed by Frederic Lasserre, written by Richard Cavell (spring 2017)
  • Copp House, house designed by Ron Thom, written by Adele Weder (fall 2017)
  • Gordon Smith House II, house designed by Arthur Erickson, written by Michael Prokopow (fall 2017)

Like the buildings themselves, the West Coast Modern house series is under threat. There are many more houses that are worthy of inclusion and equally at risk of destruction, including Sky Bungalow, about a house designed by Fred Hollingsworth, and written by Sherry McKay. To ensure that these homes are also documented, please consider donating.

The series is supported by the Canadian Council for the Arts and published by ORO Editions. The books are available for purchase through the web.

(Photographs courtesy of Michael Perlmutter.)