By Amy Fendley
It is visible from the road, but just barely. The designers planned it this way. One can only make out the wrought iron and 24-elk-antler chandeliers on the ceilings if they pay close attention. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. At least, not yet.
The entire exterior of the 5,000 square foot home in Sunridge Plateau is covered with five inch hand-spilt basalt stone, while architectural millwork is shown off in the dormers, bay windows and gables. The heated flag stone driveway is snow-free, as are the walkways.
A grand entry into Akasha (assuming you don’t use the ski-in/ski-out entrance) is made through a main hallway, but only after the state of the art Lutron lighting, security, communication and audio/video Smart FX system is activated.
The house immediately opens into the grandeur of 10-foot-high timbered ceilings, fireplaces, and the sweet aroma of cedar.
Akasha is a vision and joint venture by the Taina Group of Companies and Munster and Sons Development Ltd. President, Andrew Munster, has been a resident of Whistler since 1971 and has been building homes and gaining recognition for his craftsmanship for more than 20 years.
The architectural design is by Munster and David L. McColm and the design team is comprised of Munster and his wife Bonnie, McColm and Penelope Williams.
"It’s Bambi meets Bill Gates," says Bonnie Munster. "It’s wired for Bill, but it’s comfortable and welcoming."
The house is a combination fantasy, spare-no-expense, labour of love for the Munsters and the rest of the team. But it’s also a house built for a growing market, the international investor for whom quality is an issue; price is not.
In the last couple of months six?? Whistler homes have sold for more than $1 million each, with a Honk Kong resident paying nearly $3.5 million for a house in Taluswood.
Munster says there is approximately four months to completion of Akasha, and until that time feels strongly about not disclosing the home’s speculative price-tag. But one can safely say that Akasha will break all previous records when it is sold.
The home was developed out of the landscape and offers views from the Tantalus Range to Mount Currie.
Exactly 126 feet of ski-lift cable (believed to be from the Red Chair) accents a circular wrought iron hand railing on the spiral staircase which winds its way around a 48 foot high cedar tree, leading to the rooms located in the higher altitudes of Akasha.
The 428 year-old cedar radiates from the centre of the home and functions as its main supporting structure. It is four feet in diameter and gives Akasha its name. It refers to the ancient Shaman belief that the cedar tree is the gateway to all knowledge. There are many pathways to access Akashic records, the ethic literary where all the past, present and future knowledge is stored. In the golden cauldron, it is the ancient and gracious cedar tree that forms the doorway.
"It was fun to do the research, finding the artisans," said Munster. "The base of people we work with are specialists that are more than good at what they do — they always give something new and different."
Xwa Lack Tun of the Coast Salish carved The Spirit Circle. Four nine foot totems: the thunderbird, eagle, bear and wolf, which are placed in four directions around Akasha’s indoor pool.
Twin Vision Glass, a Canadian company specializing in fused glass art, used 22 karat gold fused into dichroic glass to create a jewel-like border outlining the stone splash around the pool.
Above the pool is a feature 10 foot curved ceiling, custom designed with yellow and red cedar to replicate the ribs inside of a giant canoe.
Sculptured rock is frequently used by the designers as an exterior feature for the barbecue, hot tub, heated rock seating, gas fire pit, stairs, and for the indoor waterfall and planters. All of which have independent irrigation and lighting.
A total of 29.5 rooms grace the halls of Akasha: four bedrooms (all with ensuites), a total of six and a half bathrooms, a living room with 180 degree views of the village and golf courses, dining room, a fully-equipped kitchen with walk-in pantry, family room, mud room, entry, a study with fireplace and paparazzi-proof balcony, sitting room, laundry room, cupola room, a media room equipped with a theatre system, bar room, spa and pool room, change room and second laundry area, wine cellar, two mechanical rooms, storage rooms and a two-car, maple-panelled garage.