Located in the North End of Halifax, an increasingly trendy neighbourhood with a vibrant art-scene and abundance of independent stores, the Back Box House signals the kind of forward-thinking rejuvenation this community is undergoing. Abbott Brown skillfully expands the house by 1,100 square feet without overshadowing the original 1940’s home.
The original building is true to the stick-figure house shape; a cube with a slightly flattened triangular roof. Abbott Brown's rectangular addition contrasts the original pentagon with its flat roof and sharp, perpendicular walls.
From the street, the addition is barely visible to passersby and suggests that it is meant to be appreciated and enjoyed by the house residents and not the public. I am delighted by this idea! The addition's subtle presence behind the original home shows that Abbott Brown was focused on achieving the residents' bucket-list, not on creating a public attraction.
In fact, the features gained by the homeowners are ocean views and a deck patio, both of which are at the rear of the property. These are private spaces where the residents can escape and relax.
The white walls and light-toned wood that are used in the home's interior help generate the calm, clean, natural atmosphere that has been established by the ocean views and outdoor patio. The image below shows Abbott taking a break in one of these nooks.
The addition's soft-spoken tone seeps through the contrast in materials. Abbott Brown has chosen a local hemlock cladding that honours the home's Nova Scotian roots. The narrow, weathered planks make me think of the addition as a painting canvas. The hemlock pops the solid, dark, wide cladding of the original house out of the canvas and onto the street. Again, this focuses the public's attention on the original house instead of on the private refuge held inside the addition.
I love how Abbott Brown's Back Box House allows for its residents to experience and enjoy a new sense of space that is private while open. They have cleverly designed the "modern box" to be a different form, colour, and material which highlights the original house to passersby. Overall, I find it refreshing to see an addition that celebrates how people live in a home.
Photo courtesy of Abbott Brown Architecture
To learn more about their sleek, modern designs, visit Abbott Brown Architecture.
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Researched and written by Kate Macmillan studying at Dalhousie University in the Bachelor of Community Design program.