Located on the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, this small dwelling provides the client with a retreat to call home, and an art studio in which to work. The retreat is nestled in tall woods, allowing for intimate, individually-framed views of the old forest. The views stretch from the tree crowns to the mossy undergrowth and forest floor, to longer distant vistas of the ocean.
The 825 square foot retreat contains a kitchen, a living/art studio, one bathroom, one bedroom and a private outdoor deck.
The client’s wishes for simplicity, gentle exterior appearance, small footprint and abundant natural light set the stage for an open sculptural form. Great effort was taken to minimize the building’s impact on the site, resulting in a long, slim structure. By slightly twisting two main blocks of the plan, and overlapping these shapes, a building modest in area is ever expansive and full of unexpected depth.
The Douglas fir and cedar for the project was locally-milled to specific sectional profiles for warmth, distinction and fineness. The roof members were planed and exposed, giving homage to the natural environment. Millwork and windows were also crafted from local fir, completing a set of ingredients sourced from a short radius of the project. The floors are radiant chosen to be efficient given the tall spaces in the building. Being set in the shade of trees, all that was required for cooling was operable windows at low and high reaches creating constant fresh air movement.
Custom lighting was designed to enhance the forest experience on rainy or dark days. A periscope light acts as a beacon guiding you safely to your parking spot. Steel “macaroni lights” gently illuminate the forest, extending the threshold between the interior spaces and exterior, yet allowing a sense of safety when merging with the nocturnal world.
Photos: Steven Evans