Magazine article Sunset

An Island Hideaway Lost in the Woods

Magazine article Sunset

An Island Hideaway Lost in the Woods

Article excerpt

HUGGING A GENTLE knoll on 10 acres of waterfront property on Hornby Island, three ferry trips away from Vancouver, British Columbia, this pavilion of wood and glass virtually embraces the forest around it. Rather than attempting to upstage its stunning setting, the retreat showcases it and even takes design cues from the natural elements at hand.

The building, designed by Henning Nielsen of Vancouver, was sited so sensitively that not a tree had to be cut. Mature madrones and Douglas firs loom above the flat roof (built to accommodate an insulating layer of sod), filtering summer sun and shielding the structure from buffeting winter gales. Two madrones thrust through the deck, creating a dappled tapestry of sun and shade.

The house is basically composed of joined rectangles, positioned to take advantage of ocean views through generous windows. A clerestory spine of peaked skylights angles across the house from one entry to another, interrupting the rigid geometry and paying homage to an ancient trail that crossed the property. The spine is supported by rough-hewn posts--cut from telephone poles--that mimic the surrounding trees.

Only an elegant peninsula and a 6-inch step separate the kitchen from the dining and living areas, which in turn are set apart only by a pair of the log poles. …

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