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This $16.8M Vancouver mansion is a waterfall of steel and chrome
James Tarmy, Bloomberg News
Canada's housing market to cool over the next two years: CMHC
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In the late 1970s, Hugo Eppich’s twin brother Helmut was living in a house designed by Canada’s pre-eminent architect Arthur Erickson. “So when it came time to build a home of my own, I of course wanted an Arthur Erickson house too,” Eppich recalls. There was, he says, some resistance from friends and family. ”People said, ‘Why are you getting the same architect? You’re going to end up with the same house as your brother.”
But Eppich persevered, and commissioned a steel and glass home set on a hillside in the British Properties neighborhood of West Vancouver. “My brother’s house,” Eppich notes, “was totally concrete.”
The Eppich brothers emigrated from Germany to Canada in 1953. In 1956, they founded Ebco Industries Ltd , a metal fabricator that, at its height, encompassed over 20 subsidiaries, and which today employs more than 200 employees.
Given that the house was made out of steel and chrome, and Eppich co-owned a steel and chrome fabricator, he quickly realized that he could make most of the materials for the house. “It took a long time,” he says, “but we could do all the steel fabrication and electroplating on our own.”
The rest of it, he says, was “done by people that were in the industry, but worked for us.” It wasn’t just about cost-saving (though that certainly didn’t hurt—all he had to pay for was cost of materials and labor), but it also meant that Eppich could have rigorous quality control over the entire process. The end result, he says, “is solid and perfect.”
In 1988 Eppich, his wife Brigitte, and their three children moved into the house. The Eppichs have lived in it ever since but now, he says, he and his wife are in their 80s, and the house “was getting too big for us.” They’ve put it on the market with Eric Latta of Sotheby's International Realty Canada for $16.8 million.
Despite Eppich’s hands-on approach to the actual construction, he says that he gave Erickson free-reign to design the house however he wanted. In addition, Erickson designed much of the home’s furniture, including the living room tables, dining tables, desks, and chairs—and Eppich’s company fabricated all of it. (The furniture is included in the sale.) Erickson reportedly called the house his “most complete work.”
The house has slightly less than 6,000 square feet, and has four bedrooms and three and a half baths. There’s also a guest house which was built six years ago, and adds another 1,000 or so square feet to the total living area of the property.
Visitors enter the home’s middle floor, where there’s a living room, kitchen, and dining room. The master suite is upstairs, which also has a study, and the three bedrooms are below. The bottom level also has a media/entertainment room.
Outside, the middle level opens up onto a heated pool, while the entire property, which is about 1.2 acres, is terraced. There are two reflecting pools and a pond, which the guest house overlooks, and the final water feature is a natural creek, which runs through the property.
The house is visually striking, and given the prominence of the architect, over the years it’s attracted significant attention. Eppich says that they’ve entertained a stream of architectural historians over the years, including one day when they let in a tour of some 300 architects from around the world. “They were there just to see what the house looked like,” he says.
Given the fact that the house is made out of steel and glass, visitors might assume that it requires a significant amount of upkeep, but Eppich says that the only thing he’s had to touch-up over the years is the caulking in-between the glass bricks. “There’s no upkeep at all,” he says.
Eppich decided to sell about a year ago, and in the interim has bought an apartment in Vancouver that he and his wife can move into. “You have to let go sometime,” he says. “My brother sold his house too.”