Project: Schoolhouse Conversion
Type: Single Family Residential
Scope: Full renovation and addition
Architect: Brian O’Brian Architect
Structural Engineer: Kieffer Structural Engineering
General Contractor: McLean Contracting
Location: Meaford, Ontario, Canada
Status: Completed 2019
Photographer: Scott Norsworthy
Text by Brian O’Brian Architect
This 1873 Schoolhouse in Meaford, Ontario, has been both restored and renewed.
The original building was constructed of 18” thick stone walls, with an entrance for boys in one wing, and girls in the other.
In acquiring this building, the Owner was intent on creating a cottage outside the City that provides a new environment of light and clarity, while simultaneously honouring the original structure.
The Northern entrance wing has been retained as the Foyer for the house, while the Southern wing, along with the West half of the first floor, is given over to private bedrooms. The floor was raised by 21” in the balance of the first floor in order to provide a better view of the surrounding landscape, to bring an intimacy with the existing roof trusses, and to allow the new addition – a glass and charred cedar volume – to extend from the building with space beneath. This addition, housing Dining and seating, stands on two thin, black steel columns that penetrate its floor, and rise through its interior to the roof above. Access to this space is to pass through the thickness of the existing stone wall, now held at the interior and visually supporting a fireplace in the Living.
The Western half of the roof trusses were removed in order to allow a second storey, consisting only of the Master Suite, to be constructed above the bedrooms below.
The primary bathroom of the house, located at the centre of the first floor, tapers upwards to the roof nearly 24 feet above, creating a shaft of light descending into the room, and simultaneously a chimney for the escape of Summer heat.
The Basement, a space just half the width of the building’s footprint, hosts a recreation space, laundry, and mechanical room.
Additional modifications to the existing building include the insertion of a 14 foot wide lift-and-slide door to the North, two popped-up dormers at the Master Suite, and meticulous restoration of the stone and mortar throughout.