8/11/08

Binning house

After unsuccessfully trying to peek over the hedges around this landmark building to catch even a tiny glimpse of it, I was ever so pleased when I found out that it was part of the West Coast Modern Homes and Gardens tour and got to go inside and see it in all its glory! And now, a month later I have finally pulled together a post about it.

The house's owner and creator is B.C.Binning, Alberta-born but a life-long Vancouver resident. He is one of the most important of modern Canadian artists whose influence easily extended into architecture, both as a designer and as a mentor to many others including Ron Thom, .... Binning designed his own house - located at 2968 Mathers Crescent, West Vancouver - and built it in 1941, one of the earliest modern houses and one of the most important to emergence of West Coast Modernism.

Adele Weder - who wrote her graduate thesis on this building - wrote an article on Binning House for Canadian Architect in August of 2006. She also collaborated on a book about B.C. Binning. In it, Weder offers that although Binning house is considered a major modernist milestone for Vancouver, it possesses a "subtle defiance of Modernist dogma".

The house is small by contemporary standards and seemingly very simple. Yet it boasts angles, slants, curves, lovely millwork, colours, clerestories and all the while has a wonderful spatial composition. The house consists of an entry hallway, kitchen, living room, bathroom, two bedrooms, and a studio. These are strung in a linear sequence that folds once upon itself in such a way that entry and the studio share a wall but they are the furthest from each other when walking from one to the other. The whole building is very rich and feels nothing like a pre-conception of modern house - a Domino house of sorts.

It has been a year that Binning's widow, Jessie has passed away and now the house, National Historic Site, is in the hands of Land Conservancy of British Columbia(who are also stewards for Erickson's Baldwin House in Burnaby) and they plan to eventually open it public. Until then, here are some point-and-shoot photos I took during my visit:

entry hallway

hallway mural

living room

living room

dining

Binning's studio

back facade

and, of course, the view!

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