Radial House

Location / BC Gulf Islands
Project Type / New Construction
Size / 4000 sf

Work in progress.

Radial House is a meditation retreat sited in a grassy meadow surrounded by forest at the edge of Denman Island. The site is characterized by a grove of mature arbutus trees which are endemic to the region. The project serves as a departure point both outward and inward: outward to the rugged Pacific Northwest landscape beyond, and inward to the meditative territory of consciousness. 

The primary architectural intention is to erase the boundaries between interior and exterior space, transcending the traditional notion of enclosure and envelope. The central courtyard provides focus, featuring a mature arbutus tree that extends through a circular oculus. The central glazing panels retract completely into opposing walls, allowing the courtyard space to seamlessly connect to the adjacent common spaces. This modest but significant architectural move is the crux of the project. Three of the radial arms of the floor plan contain identical private quarters for guests – sanctuaries for contemplation, meditation, and sleep. The fourth arm contains the entry and carport. These cave-like spaces are intended to be inhabited with the glazing fully retracted in all but the harshest of weather conditions. 

The concrete structure is embedded in the landscape with a green roof that serves to restore the existing landscape of the clearing. The abstract radial form is derived from the functional operation of the central courtyard enclosure. The ancillary spaces are peripherally extended as both non-hierarchical and radial symmetrical. Material substance and texture figure heavily with an acute awareness of both natural light and shadow. Interior finishes are sparse and minimal. The material palette is reduced to concrete, wood, and stainless steel. 

The architecture is not luxurious. Rather, it is a place where one can contemplate the deeper existential questions of the relationship between humankind and nature – suggesting that we exist within the natural order rather than outside it or above it. The circular oculus is the focal point – a single geometric gesture at the center of the space/form. It is a universal symbol of connection, unity, harmony, wholeness, and eternity, spanning across cultures past and present, speaking to a more fundamental commonality of human existence and experience.