Today, a contemporary home designed by Taylor Smyth Architects caught our attention with its modern architecture rising on the base of what used to the owner’s childhood home. The 2,300 square foot House on the Bluffs in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, gathers views of the ever-changing sky from all directions through tall trees that were kept intact during the construction. Glimpses of the nearby lake can be observed from some vantage points in the house and natural sunlight filtered through branches floods the modern interiors. Placed along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, the white stucco volume looks welcoming and makes you wonder how the house feels on the inside.
Grey Canadian limestone was used to adorn the front facade and some elements seen in the two-storey living room were given the same finish in Ontario Algonquin limestone, creating a strong visual connection between the outer and inner appearance. A screen of vertical channel glass on the front facade ensures that the staircase, guest bathroom and master bathroom get enough light, while the last one – a comfortable and relaxing master bedroom – opens to views of the lake through a backside glass wall. This transparent system of windows and a beautiful skylight ensure that the inhabitants live in a sun-filled home.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests