Occupants of Aston Hill to enjoy some spectacular new outlooks

British Pacific Properties, stretched out across West Vancouver’s mountainside above the Upper Levels Highway, has been renowned for decades for its remarkable views of Vancouver’s downtown skyline and westside.

Aston Hill, the company’s lat- est multi-family development on its 4,000 acres of land holdings, takes those views to a whole new level, with a lot of work by the planners and architects to meet the demanding building stan- dards set by West Vancouver council.

The 20 strata duplex homes are built into the hillside along winding switchbacks with grades up to 30 per cent, requiring the architects to abandon conven- tional residential construction techniques and literally invent a new style of architecture to fit the terrain.

“We think of it as the Santorini of the West,” said Mike Huggins, of Burrowes Huggins Architec- ture. “We had to build buildings that are in effect retaining walls of the land. We really had to choose reinforced concrete because the earth pressures were too great to do in  conventional construction.”

The result is that the homes have low-pitched cedar-clad roofs and large overhangs don’t obscure the city views from other homes staggered up the hillside behind and appear to naturally grow out of the hilly landscape, Huggins said. He said it has also led to yet another genre of local design — West Coast Modern — an evolution that builds on the work of such architects as Arthur Erickson, Fred Holling- sworth and Ron Thom and the West Coast Contemporary style that succeeded them.

The concrete exterior is finished with a special stucco and the architects have added features, including timber arbour and a granite veneer clad chimney, to break up the fronts of the duplexes.

British Pacific Properties — or BPP — has had lots of experience building on mountainous terrain. The company, owned by the Guinness family of English stout fame, first bought the land in 1930 for as little as $20 an acre, with plans to build country estates and even polo grounds for the gentry. In order to boost low land sales, the company got into the homebuilding business to sell lots and got government permission to build the Lions Gate Bridge, a $6-million private construction project that opened to traffic in 1938. But demand for lots remained low through the Second World War and didn’t pick up until 1950 when the Park Royal shopping centre was opened.

While designed to meet the demands of downsizers, the homes have large dimensions, ranging from more than 3,000 to 3,800 square feet on three levels. All have elevators that can take homeowners of uphill models up to the top of three levels or downhill models where a reverse model puts bedrooms on the lowest level.

BPP President Geoff Croll says 40 per cent of the homes have been sold, mainly to Metro Van- couver residents rather than off-shore buyers. “We are an average of $875 a square foot. If you are downtown, for a similar type of product it would be well over $1,000 a square foot and even higher if you are over on the west side or Point Grey for this level of finishes and construction quality.”

Buyers have been attracted by a number of West Vancouver features, he said, including good schools either at Collingwood or Mulgrave private schools or the West Vancouver public school system, which earns high marks in the Fraser Institute’s annual schools survey; personal security evident in higher police officer citizen ratios relative to other parts of the Lower Mainland and even “the fresh air and being just 15 minutes from downtown.”

The show home’s entry and reception level has an over-sized two-car garage and a Japanese-inspired water feature at the front door that opens to a foyer with heated stone tile. To one side of the entrance is a large den, while straight ahead a millwork archway marks the entrance to the galleria. A bathroom and laundry room are off one side of the galleria.

Homeowners can either walk up the glass and stainless-steel staircase with dark wood treads or take the designer-wood-walled elevator, which fulfils the goal of “aging in place,” Croll said.

The middle level features open-concept living with the kitchen against the back wall with an offset layout lead-ing to a family room, a dining room and then a living room with a contemporary linear gas fireplace framed in marble and exotic wood finishings. All areas look out to the spectacular view and a large sliding glass door opening onto a 325-square foot terrace. The level also has a powder room.

The kitchen is fitted in oakwood cabinetry, custom stained to match the hardwood floor. Homes come with a Sub Zero 36-inch integrated fridge and freezer with internal water and ice dispensers and a custom panel to match the hardwood cabinetry. Contrasting with the wood are glossy upper cabinets with a granite backsplash.

A 36-inch five-burner stainless steel cooktop is embedded in a long polished granite island, with room for four stools. Overhead is a 42-inch Wolf chimney-style hood fan, while on the back wall are a Wolf 30-inch wall oven and large Wolf microwave. A Miele dishwasher with a fully integrated custom panel rounds out the appliances. The level comes with a pass-through pantry that can be converted into a hardwood-panelled wine station with ample storage, including an under-counter refrigerator for white and sparkling wines.

On the top level are an expansive master bedroom and a “retreat” sitting area, walk-in closet and balcony. Lighting controls for the entire home are contained in iPads, which are fitted into wall niches for easy access both at home and from outside by the Internet.Two other bedrooms share a second bathroom. One bedroom has a walk-in closet and a smaller-sized terrace, while the second smaller bedroom has a large window view without a terrace.

The master ensuite designed with an exotic wood veneer vanity topped with a granite countertop, in-floor heating, an obscured glass toilet room enclosure, and a low-profile drain system leading to a frameless shower area, convenient for those in a wheelchair. The entire area is fitted in stonewall and floor tile.

Buyer Joan Porter, who lives near the University of B.C., says she and her husband “wanted a change in lifestyle.”

“I like to hike, so it’s nice and close to the mountains rather than having to drive over the bridge all the time. It’s getting really busy over here, so we thought it would be a nice option.”

They had checked out downtown Vancouver, Ambleside and Dundarave, but found all too busy and dense and then found Aston Hill online.

“I loved the view and it’s quiet and really close to the trails.” She also liked plans by British Pacific Properties to develop a commercial area for residents living above Highway.

West Van’s Aston Hill offers spectacular views

British Pacific Properties, stretched out across West Vancouver’s mountainside above the Upper Levels Highway, has been renowned for decades for its remarkable views of Vancouver’s downtown skyline and west side.

Aston Hill, the company’s latest multi-family development on its 4,000 acres of land holdings, takes those views to a whole new level, with a lot of work by the planners and architects to meet the demanding building standards set by West Vancouver council.

The 20 strata duplex homes are built into the hillside along winding switchbacks with grades up to 30 per cent, requiring the architects to abandon conventional residential construction techniques and literally invent a new style of architecture to fit the terrain.

“We think of it as the Santorini of the West,” said Mike Huggins, of Burrowes Huggins Architecture. “We had to build buildings that are in effect retaining walls of the land. We really had to choose reinforced concrete because the earth pressures were too great to do in conventional construction.”

The result is that the homes have low-pitched cedar-clad roofs and large overhangs don’t obscure the city views from other homes staggered up the hillside behind and appear to naturally grow out of the hilly landscape, Huggins said. He said it has also led to yet another genre of local design — West Coast Modern — an evolution that builds on the work of such architects as Arthur Erickson, Fred Hollingsworth and Ron Thom and the West Coast Contemporary style that succeeded them.

The concrete exterior is finished with a special stucco and the architects have added features, including timber arbour and a granite veneer clad chimney, to break up the fronts of the duplexes.

British Pacific Properties — or BPP — has had lots of experience building on mountainous terrain. The company, owned by the Guinness family of English stout fame, first bought the land in 1930 for as little as $20 an acre, with plans to build country estates and even polo grounds for the gentry. In order to boost low land sales, the company got into the homebuilding business to sell lots and got government permission to build the Lions Gate Bridge, a $6-million private construction project that opened to traffic in 1938. But demand for lots remained low through the Second World War and didn’t pick up until 1950 when the Park Royal shopping centre was opened.

While designed to meet the demands of downsizers, the homes have large dimensions, ranging from more than 3,000 to 3,800 square feet on three levels. All have elevators that can take homeowners of uphill models up to the top of three levels or downhill models where a reverse model puts bedrooms on the lowest level.

BPP President Geoff Croll says 40 per cent of the homes have been sold, mainly to Metro Vancouver residents rather than offshore buyers. “We are an average of $875 a square foot. If you are downtown, for a similar type of product it would be well over $1,000 a square foot and even higher if you are over on the west side or Point Grey for this level of finishes and construction quality.”

Buyers have been attracted by a number of West Vancouver features, he said, including good schools either at Collingwood or Mulgrave private schools or the West Vancouver public school system, which earns high marks in the Fraser Institute’s annual schools survey; personal security evident in higher police officer-citizen ratios relative to other parts of the Lower Mainland and even “the fresh air and being just 15 minutes from downtown.”

The show home’s entry and reception level has an oversized two-car garage and a Japanese-inspired water feature at the front door that opens to a foyer with heated stone tile. To one side of the entrance is a large den, while straight ahead a millwork archway marks the entrance to the galleria. A bathroom and laundry room are off one side of the galleria.

Homeowners can either walk up the glass and stainless-steel staircase with dark wood treads or take the designer-wood-walled elevator, which fulfils the goal of “aging in place,” Croll said.

The middle level features open-concept living with the kitchen against the back wall with an offset layout leading to a family room, a dining room and then a living room with a contemporary linear gas fireplace framed in marble and exotic wood finishings. All areas look out to the spectacular view and a large sliding glass door opening onto a 325-square-foot terrace. The level also has a powder room.

The kitchen is fitted in oak wood cabinetry, custom stained to match the hardwood floor. Homes come with a Sub Zero 36-inch integrated fridge and freezer with internal water and ice dispensers and a custom panel to match the hardwood cabinetry. Contrasting with the wood are glossy upper cabinets with a granite backsplash.

A 36-inch five-burner stainless steel cooktop is embedded in a long polished granite island, with room for four stools. Overhead is a 42-inch Wolf chimney-style hood fan, while on the back wall are a Wolf 30-inch wall oven and large Wolf microwave. A Miele dishwasher with a fully integrated custom panel rounds out the appliances. The level comes with a pass-through pantry that can be converted into a hardwood-panelled wine station with ample storage, including an under-counter refrigerator for white and sparkling wines.

On the top level are an expansive master bedroom and a “retreat” sitting area, walk-in closet and balcony. Lighting controls for the entire home are contained in iPads, which are fitted into wall niches for easy access both at home and from outside by the Internet. Two other bedrooms share a second bathroom. One bedroom has a walk-in closet and a smaller-sized terrace, while the second smaller bedroom has a large window view without a terrace.

The master ensuite is designed with an exotic wood veneer vanity topped with a granite countertop, in-floor heating, an obscured glass toilet room enclosure, and a low-profile drain system leading to a frameless shower area, convenient for those in a wheelchair. The entire area is fitted in stone wall and floor tile.

Buyer Joan Porter, who lives near the University of B.C., says she and her husband “wanted a change in lifestyle.”

“I like to hike, so it’s nice and close to the mountains rather than having to drive over the bridge all the time. It’s getting really busy over here, so we thought it would be a nice option.”

They had checked out downtown Vancouver, Ambleside and Dundarave, but found all too busy and dense and then found Aston Hill online.

“I loved the view and it’s quiet and really close to the trails.”

She also liked plans by British Pacific Properties to develop a commercial area for residents living above the Upper Levels Highway.

Project: Aston Hill

Project Location: 2726 Highview Place, West Vancouver

Project size/scope: 20 2-bedroom-and-den/3-bedroom-and-den hillside homes arranged in 10 duplex strata concrete buildings. Extensive views of downtown Vancouver, the harbour and the city’s west side

Residence size: 3,065 — 3,820 sq. ft.

Price: $3.1 million — $3.5 million

Developer: British Pacific Properties

Architect: Burrowes Huggins Architects

Interior Design: Insight Design

Sales Centre: 2726 Highview Place, West Vancouver

Centre Hours: noon — 4 p.m., Sat — Thurs, or by appointment

Contact: Shirley Clarke, 604-925-8002

Cypress Mountain village open house ends today in West Vancouver

Today is the last day for people to review an proposal for a new mountainside village in West Vancouver below the Cypress Mountain ski resort.

A series of community open houses about the proposed Cypress Village, a new dense neighbourhood with restaurants and shops, has its final session on Friday from 4 p.m. PT to 8 p.m. at the West Vancouver Community Centre.

The idea is to concentrate density along Cypress Bowl Road in the area known as the Upper Lands, while preserving much of the mountainside, said the District of West Vancouver’s senior community planner David Hawkins.

“One of the ways to preserve that mountainside is to concentrate future development into a village.”

The exact location has yet to be determined, but Hawkins estimates about 121 hectares of land on Hollyburn Mountain will be developed.

He said a working citizens’ group that had put together a study of the Upper Lands has suggested that any development should not go above 365 metres elevation. The group also wants to prevent housing sprawl.

Hawkins says Cypress Village would be similar to Whistler Village’s look and feel, but it won’t be centred around tourism and recreation.

“We know West Vancouver’s mountainside is a destination, and the idea is the village might be a gateway to that, but it’s not only that,” he said. “The intent is for it to become a complete community.”

New Vancouver model home in small development has an interior that vies for attention with its views

Highlighting sweeping southerly views that take in Mount Baker in Washington State, downtown Vancouver’s skyline, and across the University of British Columbia’s peninsula to Vancouver Island beyond, the new development of Aston Hill has a view to a thrill in abundance.

Designed by British Pacific Properties, the 20-unit development — scheduled for completion in May – offers semi-detached properties with a three-bedroom floor plan, and a location in West Vancouver’s Whitby Estates neighbourhood. This has easy access to skiing and snowboarding (it’s at the base of Cypress Mountain), a future shopping village, and the esteemed Mulgrave and Collingwood private schools.

This particular home has a layout spanning three levels and boasts an elevator to each floor. The main level features engineered hardwood flooring set on cork underlay, and nine-foot ceiling heights allow for the large windows that maximize the amount of natural light in the home, and showcase those far-reaching scenes.

In prime position, the kitchen overlooks the adjoining family room where sliding glass doors open onto an entertainment-sized terrace. Horizontal grain rift-cut white oak cabinets with back-painted glass doors provide an elegant combination, alongside high-end integrated Sub-Zero, Wolf and Miele appliances. An adjoining pantry acts as wine storage with dedicated shelving for bottle racks as well as a built-in wine cooler.

The open-concept formal living/dining area is designed to take advantage of the views; its interior focal point is the linear floating gas fireplace.

Two of the three bedrooms are located on the top floor – each has an ensuite and a private terrace. The sumptuous master suite boasts a walk-in closet, a seating area and a lavish bathroom complete with a soaker tub and an oversize curbless shower, with Kohler, Blanco and Toto fixtures, and a double vanity.

Sheerweave roller shade window treatments throughout the home ensure the ambient temperature stays just right. Although with those views, why would you ever want to close them?

2763 Highview Place
West Vancouver, B.C.

Asking price: $3,418,000
Monthly fee: $707.09

Taxes: TBD
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 4

MLS # V1103464
Listing Broker: Royal LePage Sussex (Shirley Clarke)