Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
SOUTHLANDS RESIDENCE in British Columbia, Canada by DIALOG
August 3rd, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: DIALOG
The Southlands Residence nestles into a mature, heavily vegetated corner site in Vancouver’s historical Dunbar-Southlands neighborhood. A year-round fresh water stream divides the irregularly shaped property as it threads its way below Marine Drive to the south. The lush basin resulting from long-standing environmental forces sets the stage for a dramatic and highly contextual architectural response. The Southlands Residence spans the riparian environment and sets up a circulation sequence that culminates in a grand south facing outdoor ‘room’ on the water’s edge. The design capitalizes on moments of natural splendor in social zones while playfully borrowing from foliage and topography in the creation of private contemplative spaces.
The house was designed around the structural grid established by an earlier residence. While remnants of original footings and columns remain, the Southlands Residence completely reinterprets the competing notions of privacy and exposure adjacent a well-travelled avenue. Strategically placed concrete fin walls in the landscape, meticulous interior millwork objects, and substantial feature skylights define private living zones on an otherwise open main level. Polished, heated concrete floors run continuously throughout. An exposed wood roof with jewel-like steel connections runs the length of the house, extending generously beyond large expanses of commercial curtain wall glazing.
The deep eaves offer protection from glare and direct weather penetration while framing views of the planted basin and maximizing natural illumination. A perimeter network of decks straddles this covered zone, further blurring the line between interior and exterior. Surrounding bamboo, rhododendrons, and Japanese maples become as much a part of the interior living areas as the client’s carefully selected pieces of furniture.
Connection between the main floor and a lower living area brings one of many delightful architectural moments in the form of a highly crafted steel and glass stair. Descending to the more sequestered zone below affords a fleeting glimpse of the creek and navigable landscape beyond. Access to this private outdoor environment is provided on the north side of the house through an integrated garden storage and potting area. This deep threshold contains all the tools required for the client’s landscaping penchant while marking the start of a rich site circulation sequence.
A concrete path crosses over the slow moving water and threads south under the sculpted wooden belly of the house. Where previously the landscape had bounded interior volumes, the building skin now frames entry into the luscious outdoor realm. The house fulfills its ambitions as a gateway and the final living space is revealed as the site itself – one level below and a world away.
DIALOG is the language of collaboration. The name conveys the firm’s uniquely collaborative approach, founded upon engagement of clients and communities by multidisciplinary teams in an interactive planning and design process that encompasses architecture, engineering, interior design, landscape architecture, planning, and urban design services. It is an approach that has garnered international recognition for the firm’s outstanding contributions to the public realm and the design of cities.
At DIALOG, our philosophy is to deliver outstanding solutions that leave a lasting, positive mark on the community. Our people are unabashedly client-focused and passionate about their work – and our culture embodies talent, energy, creativity, integrity, tenacity, problem-solving ability, teamwork and a sense of fun.
One of our firm’s core values is sustainable design, and we bring that value to all of our projects. We typically examine a project’s impact on its physical environment, on energy sources and occupants, and its consumption of natural resources. In support of sustainable design, the firm employs over 130 LEED® accredited professionals in all disciplines.
Hands-on leadership is provided by our 38 principals. Augmenting their hands-on leadership is an exceptional team of 78 associates who play key roles in the day-to-day operation of our studios and projects. DIALOG attributes its strength to its multidisciplinary team of over 500 people who collaborate between studios in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton.
Smaller projects such as single family homes strive to fulfill these same goals. The interplay of public and private landscape and interior become critical to this dialogue. Oftentimes, the design of homes include issues of street edge and how, as in any building, the structure can engage the street or transition to the more private spaces beyond. The careful capture of natural light and its’ shaping of spaces are a component of all DIALOG’s building designs, which is particularly critical in homes, especially on the west coast.
The Southlands Residence principal-in-charge, Alan Boniface, graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1989 with a Bachelor of Architecture (Honours) (AIA Gold medal). Alan became a partner of the firm in 2001 and has been responsible for a variety of new work, from single-family homes to large commercial buildings and master plans. In all of DIALOG’s work Alan pursues the balance of a variety of interests, which contribute to the creation of the built realm and its public benefits. He continuously strives for the highest degree of design excellence by the most economic means and the contribution this makes to the quality of the built environment.