Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
A short film documents a Canadian couple’s weird and watery home.
Steer a boat to a coastal inlet on the west side of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, and you’ll find Freedom—“Freedom Cove.” It’s a 500-ton floating island, attached to land by a few delicate tethers. The colorful complex of hand-hewn wooden structures includes a two-story home, four greenhouses, a lighthouse, an art gallery, and a dance floor. Artists Catharine King and Wayne Adams have spent the past 24 years imagining and building out this castle in the sea, which is the subject of a new short film by Great Big Story.
“Subsistence living was our only opportunity to have anything as artists,” Adams says in the film. “We could never buy real estate, so we had to make our own.”
King and Adams may be ahead of the curve with their vision of off-grid, off-shore property. Yacht manufacturers and architects have recently prototyped a handful of pre-fab floating homes as low-emissions alternatives to the land-lubbing life (or perhaps an embrace of sea-level rise). These sleek, solar-powered units seem to be designed for an upscale market of occasional water-dwellers.
Freedom Cove, on the other hand, is no luxury experience. No road access exists; the nearest town is 45 minutes away by water. Adams fishes for dinner, while King oversees the extensive garden operations. According to previous coverage, there is no refrigeration on the island, though there is a generator. Rain and a nearby waterfall provide hydration for the couple and their two children.
But for them, Freedom is freedom. “I can’t imagine living any other way,” says King. “I feel completely fulfilled.”