I refuse to admit to having bad years but I do have less good years, and 2018 certainly measures as a year that I will be glad to see recede in my memory’s rear view mirror.

2019 has made a seriously promising start, with the uniquely exciting prospect of designing an off-the-grid residence on a foreshore lot on beautiful Wikaninnish Island near Tofino, a favourite destination for those who wish to experience the awe and grandeur of nature’s power, so magnificently and wildly manifested in the west coast’s spectacular winter storms.

It’s early days and much information needs to be gathered before the design process begins. To parrot a maxim used by Ian Patterson, an old tutor of mine at my school of architecture – Investigation, Incubation, Realization. Investigation has commenced with the some of the essential desk studies that are needed as part of the design process – climate, weather patterns, tides, site suitability for wind, solar and other possible alternative energy sources, permit requirements, etc.

A serious constraint is that site access is by boat followed by several hundred feet on foot, or by helicopter. The logistical challenges this imposes in terms of moving labour, plant and materials to the site are likely to be significant design influences. Dealing with those factors is not new. I faced the same issues when I designed a house for a client, Michael McCloughlin from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who bought a small croft on Bere Island, situated off the west coast in County Cork, Ireland. In that instance a small ferry had a very limited carrying capacity that influenced form and material selection.

Included in the design of Michael’s house was a spiral staircase which, at the time of proposing it, I expressed as symbolic of the DNA spiral and so a metaphor for life. As circumstances would have it and unbeknownst to me, Michael had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. With that burden on his shoulders, building into his in his new home an element that represented life was a significantly propitious gesture to him. I’m pleased to say that nearly twenty years later Michael is still with us.