Some would say that a log home from the 1850s would exist rather vernacularly in the rural reaches of Caledon, Ontario. The current owner of the home and surrounding property envisioned a contemporary sanctuary within the pastoral landscape. Due to certain building codes, the current house could only undergo a certain amount of renovation, and not be removed from the property. Queue PARTISANS, a Toronto based Architecture firm renowned locally and globally for their “outside-of-the-box” methodologies of design to create a new façade, and remodel the homes aged interior.
[Detailed axonometric of the exterior shroud]
The landscape of the site (and general region) complements the typology of the log home quite well due to the obvious use of material. The only thing more vernacular than a log house built in a forested area is an igloo (even though an igloo is distinctively more Canadian). Where does this put us in relation to the rolling hills of Caledon you may ask? Well, the area is still not the most accessible by today’s standards considering distance, traffic, and limited routes from Downtown Toronto. In perspective, Caledon is about 45 minutes to an hour and a half drive from Toronto's downtown core. In addition, there is only one direct route that is usually plugged with traffic on a daily basis; making travel a time-consuming endeavor.
This perception of accessibility makes the site ideal for the property owners. Being art collectors, a large rural home that reflects their artistic tastes is the perfect match. The one issue that presented itself was the lack of modernity within the rural context. This is where PARTISANS contemporary design ideologies enter the (rural) picture by bringing contemporary ideologies to the pastoral landscape.
[Hyper-realistic rendering of finished product]
Being from the ever-developing city of Toronto, and by experiencing the picturesque surroundings of the site-in-question, PARTISANS introduced the idea of a steel shroud with organic forms to envelope the current façade of the log home without removing its vernacular aesthetic. The inspiration came from the commissioner's own backyard thanks to the sun shining through the branches of the willow trees as they blew in the breeze, allowing certain amounts of light through to the viewer. This shroud solves many urban issues that bombard our design community all too often, creating privacy, while updating the aesthetic of an aged home through unconventional methods. It would be interesting to see this shroud become the new way of domestic privacy. Urban dwellings already utilize walls and fences to increase privacy; so a perforated shroud could be the next evolutionary step towards the ever-growing need for privacy within the city.
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Written and researched by Andrew Cara; Architecture Design, History, Theory, and Critiscism Undergraduate Student at the University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.