Stunning Sustainable Oceanfront Project
We can learn a lot from Indigenous Architecture. Early in the design process, we learned that Bowen Island was used by the Squamish Nation and other Indigenous groups as a seasonal hunting ground, so we felt it was important to reflect this with our design. We studied Indigenous Architecture to honour the site history, but also because it was truly sustainable and amazingly efficient for its time and took materiality, climate, orientation and location into careful consideration.
Drawing inspiration from the Indigenous Pit House and the history of the island as a hunting ground, we designed this home to be sunken into the ground protecting it from the harsh elements. It will be built using only timber structural members and is shaped to reflect the Pit House geometry, and to protect from the sea, wind, and summer sun. It will be covered in earth to naturally insulate but also to blend the design into the site and to be almost invisible from the street. The only visible part is the carport which is equipped with a full solar array and battery bank so the occupants can be totally self sufficient and run the house and charge their electric car. There is no fossil gas in the house, just electricity and solar power along with a wood burning stove. The house has large overhangs to cut the wind but even though there are large overhangs, there was no steel needed, all of the structural components are timber.
There is also 4” to 6″ of soil on top of the roof to insulate the house and the owners will replant all of the vegetation that was removed which will also reduce urban heat island effect. The overhangs protect the glazing in the summer and allow solar heat gains in the winter.
Building Design – GNAR Inc.
Builder – Alair Homes
Engineer – Allester Engineering
Completed Date – Spring 2023