Conceived and designed by Sturgess Architecture, the focus of the project was based on two fundamental principles: function as defined by the user and sustainability. The villa was designed to have a grape vineyard and was built along the stone slope, respecting the natural lay of the land, and simultaneously providing a fertile area for the garden.
The house placement was oriented south for maximal natural light (plus passive heat gain) for the interior, as well as the vineyard, all while forming the design to fit the landscape rather than the other way around.
The House On The Bench is truly an exemplary piece of sustainable architecture that speaks to the Earth in a respectful tone. The existing bluffs were left undisturbed and instead used as the cornerstone of the design and the placement of the dwelling.
I specifically mention uniquely dynamic, because brutalism often tends to imply monolithic constructions and massive uniformity, whereas the House on the Bench is quite the opposite. Its exterior is composed mainly of large concrete slabs and steel, and it was built to resemble the jaggy natural terrain that it rests upon.
The exterior design by Sturgess is both fascinating and impressive, as the design and its context completely change the way we see these industrial materials. Heavy steel and concrete are framed in a completely different, much more gentle light in the deep Canadian woods.
In the forest, the concrete almost reads as natural stone, and blends into the rock it was anchored in. The corten steel panels are coated with a special, durable, and natural finish which gives it a lovely textured dimension, and a beautiful dark red colour. The heavy coating is actually rust, applied artificially, and evenly to create a protective rust seal against the elements.
From its conception to placement and construction, the House On The Bench is a beautifully intelligent example of sustainable architecture.
For more great sustainability projects, you can check out Sturgess Architecture or check out this post on Houseporn.ca --> A Panoramic Bowen Island Perch By Sturgess Architecture.
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Photography courtesy of Ema Peter.
Researched and Written by Mikhail SK, Undergraduate Environmental Design, OCAD University