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.
SHAFT HOUSE in Toronto, Canada by rzlbd [Reza Aliabadi]
October 24th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: rzlbd [Reza Aliabadi]
“Design belongs to everyone.” Says Reza Aliabadi, the architect of “Shaft House”.
The Shaft House idea was derived from the architect’s concerns about the affordability of design. Walking down on Danforth and Woodbine avenues in Toronto, an affordable neighborhood with not too many different building types one might not expect to see a contemporary building in the area let alone a contemporary house. “This neighborhood is full of houses that look all the same. People think it is expensive to own designs. But Toronto deserves to have more of these” says the architect while pointing out to a house in Lumsden Avenue that looks fairly surreal comparing to the surroundings. Traditional modeled dwellings with their brick façades are allowing rusted steel and untreated wood panels, mysteriously covering two small windows, to be an unexpected exciting discovery in their neighborhood.
AN AFFORDABLE DESIGN
For the designer of Shaft House, the general assumption that custom design houses are a luxury is a belief that he is willing to change. Low-cost strategies are carefully persuaded in the design of this house. The architect wisely encouraged the investor to buy a modest lot of about 20 feet wide, allowing him to save money on the purchase of the land. He then carefully respected all the aspects of zoning bylaws to save on costly delays in construction. Although the laws resulted in a humble width of about 16 feet for the house, the architect challenged himself by reevaluating the functional arrangements within a narrow house while maintaining the spacious and bright feeling throughout the interior spaces. Affordable materials played an essential role in lowering the cost of the construction along with a significant architectural idea that is based on an exciting spatial experience rather than an idea based on costly materials and expensive arrangements.
EVOLUTION OF THE DESIGN
“It started from a rectangle and a shaft “Aliabadi explains while drawing diagrams of the concept. “The shaft is a void of light surrounded by services and circulation. There is no wall creating spaces in the design. Rooms are shaped from their circulation around a shaft that acts as a light well in the heart of the house. Floors are not leveled on either side of the shaft, instead they overlook each other.”
The staircase circulates around the central shaft and the services, and cause rooms to emerge in space by changing levels. The whole arrangement resembles a staircase with giant functional landings and an atrium in the middle. The vertical formation of the rooms around a central shaft allows maximum natural light to penetrate into the house and affect the total size feeling of the spaces.
THE SECTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
The spatial arrangement of the levels overlooking each other not only allows the natural light to travel deep inside the house, but it also creates multi purpose rooms that can be rearranged based on their privacy needs and their relation to the shaft. The levels have been shifted in section resulting in a canopy facing the street, and a south facing deck on the rooftop. The canopy in front is used as a private parking space and the rooftop facing the more private side of the building in the back is open to interior spaces with tall glass doors and windows.
The exterior materials have been wisely selected based on sustainability and cost efficiency concerns. Aluminum siding, which is one of the main materials used in the construction of the shaft house, is less expensive in terms of production and transfer costs compared to the traditional materials such as brick and stone. It is a lighter choice and a recyclable material that helps reduce the costs. The untreated wood and recyclable rusted steel panels are not only cost efficient materials but they also demonstrate quite an unusual organic behavior for a house by changing color while aging along with the building. This behavior clearly intends to make a statement in a neighborhood full of the same looks. The north façade facing the driveway is almost in contradiction with the interior impression of the building. With Corten steel panels and only three windows of which two are hidden behind shading wood panels, one might find it hard to imagine such a bright and airy feeling behind the rusted shells, but the architect magically transforms the interior spaces into light. The magic of course has a simple explanation; the use of a light shaft in the center and tall glass doors and windows on the south façade allows the penetration of the natural light into the house. This is while the front façade is carefully wrapped within rusted steel and wood panels providing both a sound barrier from the driveway for the house and an insulation to prevent the interior air from escaping through the north façade.
While the construction cost of the shaft house is almost as affordable as a ready-made design set of standard housings in Toronto, it is yet a surprise for the neighborhood and perhaps for many other neighborhoods in the city. But atelier rzlbd’s aspiration towards changing the face of Toronto by creating innovative and affordable designs is a goal that Shaft House successfully represents.
Contact rzlbd [Reza Aliabadi]