On the one hand a brutal concrete box with no sensitivity to light, the neighborhood and typical architectural concerns.
But on the other hand, exactly what the client ordered, extremely sensitive to light and especially daylight, detailed with extreme sensitivity to the materials used and the place it sits.
The scheme's fundamental site concept places the 2:1 rectangle of the house in a strategic position to allow for an urban courtyard to be developed at the rear of the site. The courtyard separates the detached garage from the main house and is a private buffer as well as outdoor display space for the client's art collection. Big windows and art typically do not go well together and while we as humans can adjust to varying degrees of direct light, the art can not. While the house appears to be extremely opaque, the photos illustrate how the careful control of small amounts of direct light and plenty of indirect light (both natural and man-made) illuminate the home in an evocative fashion.
The programmatic organization of the interior spaces borrows from their existing home with the primary difference being the inclusion of excavated mechanical spaces and most importantly, a full two storey foyer and dining room. This volume termnates on the the western side of the house and is awash in natural daylight. While the exterior appears as a solid, light oozes from unexpected surfaces of the walls and ceilings.
Technically, the use of cast-in-place concrete provided its share of challenges and surprises. Due to extreme care and control of the casting process, the concrete surfaces are glass smooth and contain the subtle hallmarks of poured concrete. Like a real hide, there are tonal variations and subtleties that give the shell its depth. The majority of interior walls were then conventionally framed inside and after the walls were erected.
The house sits on a granite plinth which is then split by the main exterior stair which cuts through the plinth and takes guests past the East elevation and into the exterior foyer which is one of the most powerful spaces in the project. The plinth is articulated by the grid of Birch trees which define it and the courtyard beyond.