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Liminal House, West Vancouver, Canada by McLeod Bovell Modern Houses

Project name:
Liminal House
Architecture firm:
Design firm: McLeod Bovell Modern Houses
West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Hufton + Crow
Principal architect:
Principal Designers: Matt Mcleod, Lisa Bovell
Design team:
Daan Murray, Daniel Ching
Interior design:
Built area:
1,016 m²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
Tools used:
Concrete, stained Accoya Wood, and Aluminum Plate
Residential › House

McLeod Bovell Modern Houses: The clients came to us at a pivotal stage in their lives as soon-to-be empty nesters. The evolving needs of a family became the impetus for how we imagined a house that could embody the state of transition at a conceptual and experiential level. We chose the word liminal to encapsulate ideas that have informed the design process: namely the feeling of inhabiting a transitory place; orchestrating movement through space; and dwelling in the moments between from and to...

The project site straddles the interstice between a suburban residential neighbourhood and West Vancouver’s natural stony seashore. Positioned on an expanded border between land and sea, the building form references the creatures that occupy this interstitial territory, whose physiology has adapted to such challenging conditions. In the same spirit, the house establishes itself in concrete, stained Accoya wood, and aluminum plate—enduring materials that can resist the battering effect of a shore environment.Drawing from our experience negotiating complex topography and tight proximity with neighbours, we have learned to abandon the reading of the project as a series of flat “elevations” which exists from an imaginary or inaccessible viewpoint.

Instead, we embrace a scenographic approach where the house can be understood after having moved through and around it. The language of courtyards, cantilevered volumes, and extension of landscaped surfaces onto floor areas below dismantle boundaries between the house and the natural environment. The changing outdoor atmosphere at the shore not only animates the house, but is in turn animated by the house: views are framed between solid walls and walls of glass; their images duplicated by a dark pool at the edge of the property and by the glazing of internal courtyards. Reflections and refractions of the outdoors evoke a feeling of being neither here nor there, but somewhere in between.

By Liliana Alvarez

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