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$3.8M home in B.C.'s Okanagan has steel shell for extra wildfire protection

(Sotheby’s International Realty Canada) (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada)
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A home in B.C.'s Okanagan that features a weathering steel shell designed to provide some protection against wildfires has been listed for sale at $3.8 million.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom property is located on a rocky mountainside in Naramata, in an area that was previously scorched by flames.

But the building, designed by acclaimed architect Omar Gandhi, has a fortress-like appearance intended to give an air of impermeability.

Speaking to CTV News from his office in Halifax, Gandhi stressed that the home is not "fire-proof" – but does offer some degree of fire resistance that another home might not.

"It's going to buy you time," he said. "When there’s a forest fire, you know, it can come down to seconds and minutes to kind of find shelter or to actually evacuate."

Given the region's harsh summer heat – and the increasing threat of wildfires as global temperatures rise – local bylaws require the use of non-combustible materials such as cementitious boards for building exteriors.

Gandhi said he decided to lean into the requirement, going above and beyond with a quarter-inch corten steel barrier.

The architect, who is a fan of Star Wars, said the rust-coloured armour evokes the appearance of the Sandcrawler used by Jawas in the original 1977 film.

"It's kind of a menacing-looking figure in the landscape," Gandi said. "But at the same time, if you squint your eyes, it kind of becomes the landscape."

Described by Sotheby's International Realty as a "remote masterpiece," the 1,450-square-foot home features floor-to-ceiling windows, making the most of the property's elevated vantage point. The listing also promises sporadic views of roaming wildlife, from "elk and moose to the occasional mountain goat."

(Sotheby’s International Realty Canada)

Gandi said he's currently working on a number of other projects on the West Coast, including on Vancouver Island and in the Whistler area, but declined to provide details except to say his firm tends to seek out clients who are looking for a creative collaboration.

"We're just driven by fun – we love to tell these stories in the studio and imagine these kind of fantastical things," he said. "We're always looking for clients that I think are comfortable with the unknown, and seeing where it goes."

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