Alta Lake in British Columbia, Canada, is overwhelmingly picturesque. A short drive from the ski town of Whistler, the recreational park offers panoramic views of mountain peaks and rolling forests. Visitors animate the surroundings throughout the year, the lake serving as a popular swimming hole in the summer and an ice rink in the winter.
“There’s so much going on outside. You don’t want to distract from that,” explained architect Jay Gort, a director at the London firm Gort Scott, which designed a holiday home in the area. The aptly named Rock House is sited on craggy terrain, with outcrop and conifers helping to conceal its sprawl—some 10,000 square feet, split across four floors and two volumes.
The dwelling emerges from the landscape—the deepest excavation was around 19 feet into the rock—with the cliff face giving way to tightly banded concrete formwork. The latter encases much of the house, as well as the terrace, pool (think Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals), and guest annex. It also supports a structure of black-stained hemlock wood containing the bedrooms, six in the main home and two in the annex.