Set like a diamond in the rough shore of Vancouver Island’s southern most point, 529 Swanwick road stands as a proud testament to what can be accomplished when design bows to nature. Built atop a unique concrete armature foundation so as not to disturb the precious Garry Oak root bed on site, designer Marko Simcic has redefined symbiosis in architecture.
Splitting the two central corridors, a man-made “canyon river” which circulates seawater for geothermal heating and evaporation cooling year round. Ending in a cascade flowing back to the pacific ocean along the property’s 1400 feet of private shoreline, the emotional form of this outstanding ecological design nearly brought us to tears.
Using circulating water for thermal control of a residence is a technology dating back to the early Romans at least. The successful functioning of “open” geothermal systems rely on a courageous mix of engineered precision and artisanal instinct. Having to consider every facet of local and regional weather to ensure correct thermal effect on the home, these systems exemplify the vaunted peak of balance in design. None more so than this other-worldly example.