Last week, our team had the privilege to visit the secret garden of the late renowned Canadian architect, Arthur Erickson.
Stepping into his backyard garden was both overwhelming and relatable all at once. Located deep in the Kitsilano neighbourhood, just blocks away from our studio, Erickson’s residence is situated on a street that looks like any of the ones we drive by every day on our way to work. Yet as we entered the garden, we began to escape the outside world and into his place of retreat.
As we slowly made our way past the Arbutus tree and around the man-made pond, architectural photographer Simon Scott began to share intimate stories of his time working for Erickson and the life that he lived. Throughout his prolific career, Erickson designed countless buildings, from Simon Fraser University to the Vancouver Court House. Erickson designed impressive residential spaces as well, from the two Eppich Houses to the Smith House II—one of our favourites from his large body of work.
Yet, before all of his accomplishments, this garden with a modest house made from two sheds was where it all began.
Standing in the middle of his oasis, I could only imagine what thoughts went through his head as a young architect dreaming of his future, or in his later years as he reflected on all of his work. This garden must have been a grounding place for him as he escaped from the outside world, perhaps finding solace sitting on the concrete platform that overlooked the pond.
What a special place this must have been and continues to be for those who step through its doors. Erickson’s garden reminds me that everyone needs a place to rest and gather their thoughts, to reflect and to dream again.