“Architectural Designer of the Year 2019”
09.01.19 | Western Living Magazine
A designer’s first job out of school is a rite of passage. It’s often mundane, boring, meh. So, what to make of a young Javier Campos? Freshly minted by the UBC School of Architecture, he was given a five- acre plot of unsoiled land in Los Zacatitos, Mexico, with views to the Sea of Cortez and a brief from the clinet that was four words long: Make me something beautiful. Oh, and don’t worry about budget. Or zoning. Was he the luckiest architectural designer ever?
But, like with Campos’s work, a closer inspection of this story reveals unseen details. The project didn’t come about from good fortune but from hard work with Campos taking odd jobs to help pay the bills in university. A small interior reno for someone, then that someone’s boyfriend joining Microsoft at an fortunate time, then, years later, said boyfriend- impressed with Campos’s vision and work ethic on even the smallest reno- calls him up with the aforementioned opportunity of a lifetime.
“Complicated looking, very simple” is something of a leitmotif for Campos. The Zacatitos 3 house pictured on page 44- it’s the third of five that have been completed- was built for an owner who saw Zacatitos 1 and fell in love, Here, Campos revisits many of the same themes, like off-the-grid lving that typifies his “don’t make a big deal” approach to sustainability. His team started with 3D structural panels (needed to protect the waterfront house from hurricanes) and crafted a design that minimized cutting and hence waste. “In some way we approach sustainability like Schindler and Neutra did with the 1930s healhy living movement,” says Campos. “It’s not something you go out of your way to celebrate, it should just be part of the architecture.”
"Architectural Designer of the Year 2017"
09.01.17 | Western Living Magazine
"Our work is really dumb,” insists Javier Campos. He is sitting in his small but sunlit studio in East Vancouver, surrounded by tiny, intricate architectural models, magazine covers featuring his work, and national design awards, so it’s a little difficult to really take him seriously on this one.
Another factor hurting his argument: his portfolio of projects looks anything but dumb. From off-the-grid residences in Baja California Sur, Mexico—where sleek white forms have been crafted into modernist desert shelters—to his asymmetrical urban laneway homes in the Pacific Northwest, Campos has honed his guiding principles (sustainability, context) to create stunning modernist spaces.
But the principal of Vancouver design firm Campos Studio—and this year’s Designer of the Year for Architectural Design—is not trying to be modest, necessarily. Rather, he’s emphasizing the ultimate pursuit: simplicity. “Light, wind, volume, form, all these things: the tool palette isn’t very complicated,” he says, stroking the floppy golden retriever who also works in his office. “Good architecture is simple and dumb… it’s just hard to do.”
"A Perfect Road Trip"
05.01.15 | Western Living Magazine
The highway between the touristy Cabo San Lucas and the more chill San José del Cabo is packed with cars and lined with with resorts, but stray even a bit from the main drag and you enter a deserts cape. A quick drive up to the East Cape brings you to the village of Los Zacatitos, where Vancouver architecture firm Campos Beckie has constructed a number of off-the-grid modern masterpieces that will have you plotting early retirement, while the miles-from anywhere Zac’s Bar and Grill provides serviceable lunch fare to sustain your exploration. There’s a rumour that a slew of new resorts (including a Four Seasons) will be opening in these parts in the near future, so capture some magical desolation before it’s gone.
"DOTY One to Watch: Architecture"
01.01.14 | Western Living Magazine | DOTY One to Watch: Architecture
12.01.04 | Western Living Magazine
Lynne William s and Don Smyth were on the rebound when they bought a 75-year-old Sears mail-order house. They were coming out of a troubled relationship with a slick-looking place with domineering 30-foot ceilings in the living room and a kitchen you needed roller skates to cook in. It didn't take them long, though, to realize that their new love, full of beautiful details, was also deeply flawed. The foundations had sunk so unevennly over the years that their planned updates were ruled impossible. So they took a deep breath and gave the demolition order. from now on, they said, they did n't care about looks; they just wanted a house that was warm and comfortable and that would fit their lives like a glove.
Their first step was to hire Chilean-born architect Javier Campos. His experience with sustainable buildings appealed to Williams, a garden designer and potter, and his approach of letting form follow functionHis rxprr icncc with sus tainab le bui ldings appealed to Willi ams, a ga rde n des igner and potte r, and his approac h of let ting form follow function appealed to Smyth, a software developer and MBA student. With a green agenda for materials and energy efficiency in hand, it was agreed that the house would be built around the important moments of everyday living: the moment when you look up from your book to rest your eyes, the moment when guests come in the front door, the moment when you share a laugh with a friend while you make her a coffee.
A lot of architects—and a lot of clients—would have pushed for maximum floor space and then laid out the view of downtown Vancouver, English Bay and the North Shore mountains before a few big windows like a hunting trophy. Here those everyday moments took precedence over square footage. And the smaller footprint means that instead of looking at the back of the house from her pottery studio, Williams looks over it toward that previously mentioned view. Furthermore, whether from studio or house the view is enjoyed in privacy. The house is stepped back on the steep lot with porches and patios to maintain a friendly distance from the street.
It also means that room for family, pets and multiple careers had to be magically created from a smaller number of square feet. Three strategies were used to pull the rabbit out of the hat.
One, areas that wouldn’t be used were eliminated from the plan. There is no kitchen eating area except at the island, no formal dining room. Two, storage needs were analyzed at an item-by-item level. No space-eating chaos-spewing walk-in closets or pantries. Instead highly functional drawers and cupboards fit around and below other features, creating screens and seating. Three, a continuity of materials and details makes the space seem bigger. Interior beams continue outside; wood from a single salvaged log forms the main staircase and top of the kitchen island; the decking from the balcony beyond the master bathroom travels inside.
Looking at the pared-down interiors, it’s hard to believe that the houses of turn-of-the-century California craftsman-style architects Green and Green were a major style influence. The link is revealed only in the solid beams—all structural—in the lavish use of clear wood for stairs, doors and windows and in the human scale of the living spaces.
Outside, the craftsman influence seems more apparent. It is a surprise to find out that this was never intended. Everyone had assumed that the exterior would look very modern, but as the plan for the house grew, porches, pitched roofs and visible bracing took shape. This was partly a by-product of a sloping site that called fro something other than a stucco cliff rising from the sidewalk and partly a result of passive energy strategies. The sun and the wind dictated where windows would go and how deep overhangs would be. Even the cedar shingles, a detail closely associated with Green and Green, were chosen because they were the best breathable rain-shield system available.
After two disastrous house purchases, Williams and Smyth wanted a home to love. This time around they were looking for inner beauty and, as it turns out, inner beauty shines through to the surface.