An Angled Cabin in British Columbia Makes an Ideal Island Retreat

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By Jonathan Simcoe
Vancouver-based Hinterland Design assembles a small team of craftsmen to build and finish this modern Valdes Island hideaway in just five weeks.

Sitting on a bluff overlooking the Salish Sea, the Valdes Island Shack was designed by Battersby Howat and built in 2014 by a team of Hinterland workers who camped and worked among the coastline’s wind-swept Douglas fir trees. The nine-square-mile island, located between Vancouver Island and British Columbia, includes a First Nations Reserve and boasts ancient sandstone formations.

The project fits seamlessly with the Hinterland ethos—a bunch of artists and craftspeople who design and build natural products by hand.

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The cabin was 20 percent prebuilt with framing that prefab company AJIA assembled on-site. The Hinterland team crafted the exterior and interior finishes, along with the millwork and cabinetry. Black-stained cedar siding clads the exterior while saw-cut, white stained plywood lines the serene interior. 

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The "tilted box" form of the shack, as described by architect David Battersby, mirrors the natural incline of the cliff edge and the wind-swept trees, making the cabin look like it was made for this spot.

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A metal-runged ladder bolted to interior wall panels offers a way up to the sleeping loft that looks out over the Salish Sea towards Vancouver.

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Solar power and a rainwater filtration system supply the getaway. Whether facing the thick forest or the sea, the 386-square-foot Valdes Island Shack, and its muted interior panels with minimalist accommodations, makes for a welcome retreat from the hectic pace of city life.

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Project Credits:

Architect: Battersby Howat

Design: Nelson Design

Supplier: AJIA Building Systems