Liminal House | McLeod Bovell Modern Houses | IRA Awards 2023

McLeod Bovell Modern Houses: Winner of International Residential Architecture Awards 2023. 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. Similarly, the project site straddles a transitory zone 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 creatures that occupy this interstitial territory, whose physiology has adapted to such a challenging environment. The word liminal has been chosen to encapsulate ideas that have informed the design process: namely the feeling of inhabiting a transitory place and the orchestration of movement through space. The focus of the house is on the moments between from and to…

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.

Project Details
McLeod Bovell Modern Houses

Matthew McLeod and Lisa Bovell

Project Name
Liminal House

Private Residential Built

Project Location
West Vancouver

Matthew McLeod, Lisa Bovell, Daan Murray, Daniel Ching


Photography ©Credit
©Hufton + Crow

McLeod Bovell is a collaborative design partnership specializing in complete residential design. Our work embraces embedded social, spatial and environmental opportunities as generators for invention. We work to understand the substantive elements of our client’s nature and desires. Sometimes this is articulated, but often what is not said is most important. Through this dialog we establish a framework for design decision-making. Ideas evolve from this investigation rather than out of pre-conceived, prescriptive solutions. Spatial experiences and idiosyncrasies are prioritized. Through this process we hope to create work that conveys feeling, specific character, and is receptive to influences beyond our region.