Elma Bay Residence

Planned as a grand sweeping crescent opening to the spectacular vistas over the pebble beach, north across Georgia Strait to the Coast Mountains, the internal spaces flow along the ocean shore and open to the views. The concave courtyard embraces the sheltered warmth of the southern exposure.

The planning for this complex of house, studio and garage mediates between the warmth of the embraced by a courtyard formed by the concave form of house and studio building and the spectacular views up and down the coast of Vancouver Island and the ocean and mountains of the northern coast with a sweeping convex form. The exposed beams curve through space highlighting the circulation gallery and peaking your sense of curiosity as to what lies beyond. The arcs continue outside as a formalized and unifying landscape element between the buildings, gardens and the forest beyond.

The interior is sparse;  hardwood floors, architectural concrete with bluestone details and simple wall planes.  The sculptural timber roofs float above the walls of glass and cedar.

Exposed glulam beams curve through space highlighting the circulation through the house while supporting a series of undulating rafters that define and form sensual, sculptural spaces. The curving beams tie into vertical concrete fins that resolve shear forces and provide a sense of grounding and tectonic syntax to the space. The architecture is minimally detailed. The great room is divided by an open, three-sided concrete fireplace.

The home is for a family with four boys. A transparent link between a south terrace and the outdoor room creates an illusion of two homes, one for the boys and one for the parents. Many of the exterior walls of the house can open with a series of 9’0” x 6’0” pivot doors on the sea side in the main social spaces and 20 feet of folding glass walls in the hallway link.

The owner is an artist and was interested in using colour as punctuation points to the general palette of raw natural materials. Exterior walls of bright glass tile on the south side courtyard of the complex define different points in space. Arcs continue outside as formalized and unifying landscape elements between the buildings, gardens and the forest beyond.

The house and studio are heated with geothermal energy. The site was previously a graveled trailer park, so much remediation was done to bring the landscape back to indigenous vegetation along the seashore.



Exterior Photographer: Peter Powles

Interior Photographer: Gillean Proctor

Architects: Helliwell+Smith • Blue Sky Architecture