Inspired by the sweep of the shoreline and orientation to the sun, the house and garden form an oval in plan. The sunny courtyard is shaped and contained by the main house to the north and gate house/utility buildings to the south. These elements are connected by garden walls and trellis structures. The remainder of the site is left as a natural forest.



The site is seafront on a small island off British Columbias coast, with no ferry access or local services. The house is off-grid and situated on a point of shoreline facing northeast. In plan, the house and walled garden complex is an oval intersected with an axis directed towards a small point on the shoreline. Upper roof curves orient to the sun, and lower flat roofs allowing for optimal placement of solar panels and maximize natural ventilation and light penetration into the heart of the house. Walls are largely transparent, facing central garden spaces. Sunshine penetrates deep into interior spaces, while on the other side, the expanse of ocean is visible from all rooms.

The construction palette for the Booklovers House is natural, durable, and local. Because of the remove island location, all materials had to be hand-loaded on and off a small barge, making transportability important. The Douglas fir used for the garden fencing and cloister was milled from trees recycled from clearing the building site. This home combines the introverted nature of book lovers, which its cloistered courtyard, with an extroverted face of window wall to the sea, combining many ways of living in modest domestic spaces.

Bo Helliwell + Kim Smith, Architects


Gillean Proctor