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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
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.

The Drift House in Northern Canada by The Open Workshop

 
July 19th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: THE OPEN WORKSHOP

With insufficient core populations to support public structures, the typology of dwelling has attained the highest level of refinement within the Arctic’s unique climate. Pre-WWII indigenous Inuit Housing Types had embedded connections to the local landscape, its orientation, materials and fabrication, while embracing the nomadic Inuit lifestyle. With zero ecological footprint, these temporal dwellings employed opportunities from the landscape and atmosphere to form a complex shelter that negotiated thermal performance, local materials, soft construction techniques, program and cultural values.

View of the Drift House in summer configuration from the highway, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

View of the Drift House in summer configuration from the highway, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

  • Architects: THE OPEN WORKSHOP
  • Project: THE DRIFT HOUSE
  • Location: Northern Canada
  • Project Research and Design Team: Neeraj Bhatia (Director), Tracy Bremer, Mary Casper, Zachariah Glennon, Alicia Hergenroeder, Brian Lee & Sonia Ramundi
  • Funded by: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, MIT Lawrence B. Anderson Award & Rice School of Architecture Faculty Research Grant
  • Year: 2012

View of the Drift House in winter configuration from the highway, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

View of the Drift House in winter configuration from the highway, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

Permanent architecture –in the form of prefabricated Government housing– was employed in an effort to assert Arctic Sovereignty during the Cold War era by the Canadian Government. Despite instilling new notions of comfort and durability, this new housing neglected the cultural and sustainable intelligence of traditional dwellings. Importing a ‘southern’ model of dwelling, these hermetic containers were highly contingent on imported materials, energy consumption, labor, and transport costs, while forcing a transformation to the Inuit lifestyle that severed a connection to the dynamic landscape. These typologies have formed the template for Arctic shelter and settlements in Canada that still persists today. Currently undergoing a housing crisis due to decadent construction and energy costs, and the corresponding ramifications on overcrowding and deprivation, the Drift House aims hybridize the intelligence of tradition and technology of both housing systems to offer direction on future constructions in the Arctic.

View of courtyards produced in the summer configuration, increasing connections to the landscape and allowing for outdoor program such as cooking areas, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

View of courtyards produced in the summer configuration, increasing connections to the landscape and allowing for outdoor program such as cooking areas, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

The Drift House proposes a series of snow fences that passively utilize snowdrift to form a new dwelling type by calibrating the snow fences with differential mesh openings and height. While the snow fence is a static infrastructure to protect roadways, it is manipulated to produce a precise pattern of passive snow accumulation from the dynamics of snowdrift. By understanding a malleable system, such as snowdrift, architecture can be formed in response to the landscape — calibrating, mitigating and using once ‘problematic’ environments in an opportunistic manner.

View of the Drift House in winter configuration from the highway Interior view of the Drift House in the winter, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

View of the Drift House in winter configuration from the highway Interior view of the Drift House in the winter, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

The house is comprised of four nested surfaces formed of ETFE panels that create a series of climatic zones that are parasitic to the calibrated snowdrifts. The accumulated snow passively ‘builds’ part of the dwelling, while also serving as a counterweight to the light cantilevered structure. The nested thermal environments produce a series of thermal zones related to the interior program and traditional lifestyles. This hybridized space — a series of planes positioned in relation to a dynamic system, meshes high-tech thermal materials with the landscape (snow) to create soft thermal gradients. By using snow as a material, structural counterweight, and enclosure, the Drift House is able to passively accumulate a responsive shelter through the manipulation of a generic technology (the snow fence) to form new a typology of dwelling and construction.

A manipulation of the density (porosity) and height of the snow fence produces a precise pattern of snowdrift accumulation to nest a new housing type, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

A manipulation of the density (porosity) and height of the snow fence produces a precise pattern of snowdrift accumulation to nest a new housing type, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

Comparison of components of the Drift House as compared with standard government housing currently deployed by the Canadian Government. By reducing the weight and volume of the Drift House, shipping costs to this remote region are significantly reduced, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

Comparison of components of the Drift House as compared with standard government housing currently deployed by the Canadian Government. By reducing the weight and volume of the Drift House, shipping costs to this remote region are significantly reduced, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

Plan, Summer, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

Plan, Summer, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

Section, Winter, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

Section, Winter, Image Courtesy © THE OPEN WORKSHOP

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Categories: House, Housing Development

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