Shaft House in Canada

December 13, 2010 Modern Architecture

The Shaft House idea was derived from the architect’s concerns about the affordability of design. Walking down on Danforth and Woodbine avenues in Toronto, an affordable neighborhood with not too many different building types one might not expect to see a contemporary building in the area let alone a contemporary house.

For the designer of Shaft House, the general assumption that custom design houses are a luxury is a belief that he is willing to change. Low-cost strategies are carefully persuaded in the design of this house. The architect wisely encouraged the investor to buy a modest lot of about 20 feet wide, allowing him to save money on the purchase of the land. He then carefully respected all the aspects of zoning bylaws to save on costly delays in construction. Although the laws resulted in a humble width of about 16 feet for the house, the architect challenged himself by reevaluating the functional arrangements within a narrow house while maintaining the spacious and bright feeling throughout the interior spaces. Affordable materials played an essential role in lowering the cost of the construction along with a significant architectural idea that is based on an exciting spatial experience rather than an idea based on costly materials and expensive arrangements.

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The staircase circulates around the central shaft and the services, and cause rooms to emerge in space by changing levels. The whole arrangement resembles a staircase with giant functional landings and an atrium in the middle. The vertical formation of the rooms around a central shaft allows maximum natural light to penetrate into the house and affect the total size feeling of the spaces.

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The exterior materials have been wisely selected based on sustainability and cost efficiency concerns. Aluminum siding, which is one of the main materials used in the construction of the shaft house, is less expensive in terms of production and transfer costs compared to the traditional materials such as brick and stone. It is a lighter choice and a recyclable material that helps reduce the costs. The untreated wood and recyclable rusted steel panels are not only cost efficient materials but they also demonstrate quite an unusual organic behavior for a house by changing color while aging along with the building. This behavior clearly intends to make a statement in a neighborhood full of the same looks. The north façade facing the driveway is almost in contradiction with the interior impression of the building.

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While the construction cost of the shaft house is almost as affordable as a ready-made design set of standard housings in Toronto, it is yet a surprise for the neighborhood and perhaps for many other neighborhoods in the city. But atelier rzlbd’s aspiration towards changing the face of Toronto by creating innovative and affordable designs is a goal that Shaft House successfully represents.source

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