Jul 1, 2006 | Marmot, Summer 2006

Yaletown Meets Mount Washington at Wildwood!

Leslie and Terry Farmer walked into the great room of their new home at Wildwood and gazed upward in awe.

The vaulted ceiling, constructed with exposed cedar and inspired by the confluence of forest and sky, was a big selling point for the Farmers – in fact, Leslie hadn’t even wanted to look in Wildwood at first, until she saw the ceilings.

“My wife wasn’t keen on this at first because it’s three floors,” Terry Farmer said in a telephone interview from his home in Victoria. They had first looked at units elsewhere at the Resort. Terry arranged for a viewing at Wildwood and urged Leslie to come with him. “Once she got into it on the ground floor she was sold immediately.”

The Farmers are the first buyers in Wildwood, the newest development at Mount Washington. Wildwood comprises eight luxury townhouse chalets in two, four-unit buildings, located on Nordic Road near the intersection with Henry Road and perched at the entrance to Strathcona Provincial Park. The Wildwood site was selected for its convenient access to the Hawk chairlift and the trailhead to Paradise Meadows.

The first phase was completed in late June. The luxury chalets are the first of their kind at the Resort and some have likened Wildwood to Vancouver’s trendy Yaletown.

Architect Colin Kwok of Azurean Architecture Inc. said his inspiration wasn’t so much Yaletown as the thought of building something in which he would love to be snowbound – “A place that felt like it was in the mountains without a mountain vernacular being forced onto it,” he said.

At the same time, he didn’t want to design “a city project lost in the woods.”

“Like Yaletown, an area that balances wonderfully aged exteriors with a certain up-to-the-minute modernity, we (Kwok and developer Raymond Lam of Lam Family Ventures Ltd.) very much wanted a fresh, updated version of what to do in the mountains,” Kwok said. “If it feels like Yaletown – and you like Yaletown – I would say we were successful.”

Lam is more pragmatic. “Wildwood at Strathcona was not created to be more upscale, but simply to be different and provide more options for buyers on the mountain,” he said. “We feel that the characteristics that make Wildwood at Strathcona different will be the reasons for its success.”

Both Kwok and Lam have experience designing and developing high-end units; Lam with a five-unit project in the Victoria area last year and a triplex conversion in a turn-of-the-century home this year; Kwok with numerous projects from airports to industrial parks, resorts to restaurants like Lumiere and Cioppino’s (now Tojo’s), also in places like Sydney, Australia, Toronto, Whitehorse, Vancouver, Seattle, Shanghai and Argentina.

The uptown nature of the design is what drew the Farmers to Wildwood. “It was an attraction,” admits Terry. “Not only the look and space, but also the way Raymond has focused it. It’s going to be a beautiful place to live.”

Early on in the planning process, Kwok and Lam decided to keep an exposed structure on the inside of the high-vaulted ceilings in the upstairs living areas of each unit. That theme is carried on with the polished banister and wood floors, as well as exposed wood baseboards and trim.

“We wanted to use a very natural colour palette consisting of a dark brown siding and accented with lots of natural cedar,” Lam said.

“The sophistication came in the building design. We wanted Wildwood to stand tall, allowing for high ceilings to provide a sense of openness even while outside. We wanted lots of decks to get outside into the fresh air and admire the breathtaking views of Strathcona Park,” he said.

“We wanted well-appointed interior finishes like maple cabinets and flooring, tile in the bathrooms with slate floors and a sauna,” he said. The kitchen is in the centre of the main floor living area.

“We feel that a comfortable living space provides for a sense of calm and relaxation. We envisioned a space to invite and entertain family and friends, but also feel cozy when only two are snuggled up in front of the fire.”

The Farmers haven’t owned a ski chalet since their children were young (they used to have a townhouse at Mt. Baker in Washington State). Now that their daughter has had a child, Terry and Leslie thought it was time to invest in another place.

Wildwood is ideal because their daughter, son and their respective spouses are all outdoor enthusiasts and the family home is located across the road from Strathcona Park. Terry skis, but Leslie does not (although she might try snowshoeing).

Farmer, who owns the Accent Inns hotel chain, will likely keep his home for family and friends, refraining from renting it out. “We will use it a lot, and year-round,” he said.

The Lams will probably buy a unit in the second phase. Raymond Lam and his three sisters grew up on Vancouver Island and enjoyed Mount Washington for many years.

“Now with husbands, wives and grandchildren around, we knew that our families would be around to enjoy it for many more years to come,” Lam said.

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