Project: The Monocular House
Architects: RHAD Architects
Location: Chester Basin, Canada
Project size: 256 m2
Completion date: 2020
Photo Credits: Julian Parkinson
Text and photos: courtesy of RHAD Architects
The Monocular House was designed to choreograph one’s experience of the dramatic waterfront site. Thus, it was treated as a Monocular, framing the view of the Basin beyond.
The programme includes a variety of spaces with unique requirements including an open layout for living and dining, an unconditioned screened-in porch, a private bunkie, and activated outdoor amenity spaces. To fit these elements in the most functional way possible our earliest design decision was to split these elements into two buildings. First, a major building that would contain the primary year-round living quarters for the clients, and a minor building housing guest and seasonal spaces. Both buildings are modern interpretations of the wood-clad gable homes common of the local vernacular style. The design strategy allowed for the creation of the ‘Monocular’ moment between the buildings.
The lower level of the Major building contains an open living/dining/kitchen which flows onto the breezeway and out to the landscape beyond. The upstairs bedrooms were designed to have soaring ceiling heights following the gable form which allows for dramatic views out to the Basin. All of the private spaces on this level were developed with the Master suite in mind since this is the space that will be occupied most of the time. The plan is such that the entire upper level can be opened up with pocket doors for a light and airy loft feeling. When the guest bedrooms are in use, the pockets can be closed up again to allow for privacy.
The single-level Minor building includes a workshop complete with an open-air outdoor shower sliced out of the building’s form, the bunkie, and the screened-in porch at the end overlooking the water. The semi-transparent slatted cladding on this porch punctuates the entire project by acting as a glowing lantern in the night sky, seamlessly transitioning from interior to exterior space.
Introducing play and folly into the design was another of our primary goals. To make the space feel more comfortable and approachable, instead of the cold feeling that modern homes can sometimes have. This warmth is expressed in several aspects of the home. From the perfectly placed windows in the bunkie (allowing the sleeper to see directly out from pillow level) to the nook upstairs in a sliced out skylight which allows the sitter to watch the tree-dappled “dancing” western sunshine. Even the lofts above the guest bedroom closets allowing for another place of exploration for young children.