After decades of working on beautiful and respected buildings around the globe, architect Stephen Jones returned to Ottawa to enjoy his two children and, together with a huge team, design what will be Parliament Hill’s newly renovated Centre Block.
Early spring 2019 found Stephen looking out his window to a long backyard, buried deep in three feet of snow. Anticipating a busy summer in the city, the wheels began to turn. “I decided to make my property more seasonally enjoyable by creating a small cottage in town with a long deck, similar to a dock.”
Designing a structure reminiscent of a tropical Tiki bar, Stephen hired a company to build the foundation, and soon began construction on his urban escape. “For me this was a labour of love. I grew up in my dad’s workshop learning to create and design things from scratch. Over many years, I have really enjoyed building outbuildings, deck structures, tree-houses and doing home renovations.”
Working with suppliers such as The Wood Source in Manotick, Stephen ordered a selection of stunning and durable Canadian wood. Choosing pressure-treated lumber for the full undercarriage of the deck and superstructure, beauty was added using red cedar with doors and trim of Douglas fir. Layers of polycarbonate glazing were selected to ensure insulated and durable windows and skylights. Requiring little décor, the Tiki bar is now home to a global collection of coasters, candles, and thanks to its three-season greenhouse capabilities, a wealth of tropical plants.
Never expecting that a global pandemic was on the horizon, Stephen says it was a real blessing to have started this project when he did. “With everything completed, our office was able to gather here for socially distant meetings, just three weeks after being shut down.”
Designated, “Conference Room T” (for Tiki) by his colleagues, Stephen says that it has been an absolute joy to be able to invite friends, neighbours and business associates over for COVID-19 friendly outdoor barbeques, beverages and conversation.
As the Tiki bar is fully wired for laptops, music and blenders, favourite drink orders include strawberry daiquiris, spicy margaritas and a drink he calls Lynn’s Dark and Stormy. “I believe it to be a combination of spiced rum, Ginger Beer, soda, lemon, strawberries and rhubarb. It is truly one of the best things I have ever tasted.”
Music is always a background must with blues singers such as Joe Bonamassa and Taj Mahal on the playlist, along with the reggae sounds of Bob Marley and other music from the Caribbean.
Stephen has no plans to close down the Tiki bar for winter. “The Tiki bar is not insulated because I wanted to make sure that the cedar interior remained visible. However, with the addition of a small heater, it is the ideal destination for snowy candlelit dinner parties of two or three.” Holiday décor includes the placement of lights underneath the deck and the use of over 60 electric candles to add dazzle and warmth.
Asked what he enjoys most about his backyard oasis, Stephen chooses the happy responses of those he cares about. “People walk around the corner and say, ‘Man that is stunning.’ People love being here, and it is such a great place to gather and talk. I look at it every day and it has now become a part of me.”