Snow + heat = water.
Water + freezing temperatures = icicles.
Thawing ice + the roof junctions = problems.
Melting roof snow over warm living spaces can lead to ice dams building up over the much cooler eaves. So when in Whistler, apart from thick insulation to keep the heat in, a good practice is to keep the roof space well ventilated top to bottom so it maintains a constant temperature, over both the main roof and the eave. After all, we do like the look and function of a nice wide eave, especially as it functions to push snow away from the wall.
This is a construction section cut through the middle of a house designed for Canadian snow. It was important to safely manage where the heavy snow falls off the roof and what effect it will have on the neighbours, as well as keeping it shedding away from front door. It is always important to mix practical issues with any romantic and inventive design concept.
My talented Structural Engineer explains how much higher the snow loads here are. It gives the building elements a certain thickness and a robust, even 'chunky' look. Some good design work in Whistler has kept chunky from looking 'clunky'.