written by:
photos by:
January 14, 2009
Originally published in Mid-Century Remixed

"Repurpose, refurbish, recycle" was the guiding principle for a metals broker in Ontario who harnessed his passion for–and knowledge of–industrial materials to create a new house from old scrap.

The rusting steel is an important part of the house’s patina, Campbell says. “We appreciate materials in the raw,” he adds. “The tables aren’t stained; the steel isn’t painted. The materials are what they are.”
Photo by 
1 / 8
A custom recycled-Douglas fir table by VanEyk Custom Woodworks is the heart of the living-dining room in the so-called "Scrap House." The double-height wall is clad in the same steel that wraps the exterior. <a href="http://www.dwell.com/articles/scrap-ho
A custom recycled-Douglas fir table by VanEyk Custom Woodworks is the heart of the living-dining room in the so-called "Scrap House." The double-height wall is clad in the same steel that wraps the exterior. Read the full article here.
Photo by 
2 / 8
"I've always had this fascination with industrial buildings, and with my work, I’ve been in a lot of steel mills," says designer James Campbell of a Collingwood, Toronto, house he created using salvaged scrap metal. "Plus, I’m a modernist, so the way to c
An aluminum bench harmonizes with the industrial nature of the galvanized-steel walls and the polished concrete floor.
Photo by 
Courtesy of 
Nancy Alonzo
3 / 8
The enclosed porch.
Photo by 
4 / 8
The main living area.
Photo by 
5 / 8
An unpainted door, in line with Sherbanuk's stripped-down aesthetic, marks the front entrance.
Photo by 
6 / 8
Metals broker S. J. Sherbanuk (left) and designer James Campbell sit by the outdoor fireplace, which adjoins the screened-in porch. The house was constructed of recycled metals, and is located in Town of the Blue Mountains, 90 minutes northwest of Toronto
Sherbanuk (left) and Campbell sit by the outdoor fireplace, which adjoins the screened-in porch.
Photo by 
7 / 8
The screened-in porch.
Photo by 
8 / 8
scrap house exterior front
The rusting steel is an important part of the house’s patina, Campbell says. “We appreciate materials in the raw,” he adds. “The tables aren’t stained; the steel isn’t painted. The materials are what they are.”
Project 
Sherbanuk House
Architect 

In the tiny Town of the Blue Mountains, 90 minutes northwest of Toronto, Ontario, the tallest point on the horizon is a brightly painted radio tower. The red-and-white column stands in contrast to the rolling, forested landscape, but it’s a good match for the house just down the hill from its base. Past a rusted metal gate—made from an old truck chassis—sits a country house with an industrial heart, built with used I-beams, polished concrete, galvanized steel, and recycled hardwood.

This is not your average house in Blue Mountains, where farmers have been supplanted by skiers and new houses tend toward French country. But it’s the dream home of metals broker S. J. Sherbanuk, and it was inspired by his work digging through closed factories in search of valuable materials.

His designer, James Campbell, says he knew from the beginning that Sherbanuk would be an unusual client. “He said, ‘I don’t want a house­—I want a shed. A nice shed,’” Campbell recalls.

A wiry, intense guy who spends his leisure time skiing or cycling, Sherbanuk had very particular ideas about how his home should look. “I’ve always had this fascination with industrial buildings, and with my work, I’ve been in a lot of steel mills,” he says. “Plus, I’m a modernist, so the way to combine those things is to build an environment with stuff I’m familiar with.”

Sherbanuk’s approach to sustainability is as utilitarian as his design sense, leaning less on the recent arrival of efficiency technologies and more on the long history of material reuse and the unfailing reliability of industrial scrap to last for centuries. Outside, old galvanized-steel siding provides the skin for the house. Inside, in the living-dining area, a series of exposed steel girders supports the broad roof. Two of the girders, rescued from a demolition job, bear marks from their last lives in another building. Downstairs, Campbell designed a bar built of Douglas fir and I-beams. The steel here is new, but the wood was cut from planks found in the Toronto warehouse of a forestry company. In the living area, custom cabinets made of hot-rolled steel conceal the expensive entertainment system.

Even the art on the walls reflects the theme: A photograph by Edward Burtynsky of a mine tailings pond and an otherworldly photo by Jesse Boles of belching smokestacks are beautiful reminders of the precarious interface between industry and nature—and our power to direct it toward good or harm.

All of this—industrial chic and attention to recycled materials—comes naturally to Sherbanuk. He used to co-own a large scrapyard, and he’s seen many tons of steel, copper, and aluminum go from finished product back to raw material. “All metals are infinitely recyclable,” he says. There’s also a more personal resonance to the house: It reminds Sherbanuk of his childhood in a mining town on the north shore of Lake Huron. “I hung out in the shed because our house was really small,” he recalls. “I had three brothers, so that was the only place I could get away.”

Completed in 2007, Sherbanuk’s home is a series of irregularly shaped “sheds”: a long, low volume housing the guest suite and living-dining area; another with a workshop, laundry, and mudroom; and a three-story, metal-clad tower for the kitchen, bedroom, and workout room. It’s an odd shape, yet it fits the landscape, hugging the contours of the hillside and nestling into the shade of the forest at its peak.

This combination of rootedness and roughness is inherent to the designer. Campbell, whose family has lived in the area for generations, is determined to develop an architecture that reflects the area’s traditional building forms: “The barns and springhouses, they’re the local vernacular, and that’s a real inspiration for our work in this house.”

Campbell—who designed the house with his associate and wife, Suzanne Wesetvik—also employed basic sustainable building strategies. Its main exposure is to the southeast for optimal levels of sunlight; in winter the concrete floor gains heat during the day and releases it at night, supplemented by radiant-floor heating systems. Small windows along the west side let in prevailing winds for natural ventilation.

All of this certainly makes the house more sustainable, but Sherbanuk figures the house’s greenest quality will come out in the long term. “With most houses, when they’re torn down, everything goes into a bin,” he says. “When this house gets pulled down 60 or 80 years from now, they won’t even need a bin. It’s all gonna get reused.”

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

San Francisco dining room with chandelier and Eames shell chairs
Brooklyn-based RBW's work—from diminutive sconces to large floor lamps—shape these five interiors.
February 09, 2016
Glass-fronted converted garage in Washington
These garages go behind parking cars and storing your drum sets.
February 09, 2016
Modern Texas home office with sliding walls, behr black chalkboard paint, concrete walls, and white oak flooring
From appropriated nooks to glass-encased rooms, each of these modern offices works a unique angle.
February 09, 2016
picnic-style table in renovated San Francisco house
From chandeliers to pendants, these designs make the dining room the most entertaining space in the house.
February 09, 2016
Midcentury house in Portland with iron colored facade and gold front door
From preserved masterworks to carefully updated time capsules, these homes have one thing in common (other than a healthy appreciation for everything Eames): the conviction that the '40s, '50s, and '60s were the most outstanding moments in American architecture.
February 09, 2016
Modern living room with furniture designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba
These oases by the sea, many done up in white, make stunning escapes.
February 08, 2016
A Philippe Starck standing lamp and an Eames chaise longue bracket the living room; two Lawrence Weiner prints hang behind a pair of Warren Platner chairs and a table purchased from a River Oaks estate sale; at far left of the room, a partial wall of new
Texas might have a big reputation, but these homes show the variety of shapes and sizes in the Lone Star State.
February 08, 2016
Montigo gas-burning fireplace in spacious living room.
Built atop the foundation of a flood-damaged home, this 3,000-square-foot Maryland home features vibrant furniture placed in front of stunning views of a nearby estuary.
February 08, 2016
Studio addition in Seattle
An architect couple sets out to transform a run-down property.
February 08, 2016
West Elm coffee table, custom Joybird sofa, and matching Jens Risom chairs in living room of Westchester renovation by Khanna Shultz.
Every Monday, @dwell and @designmilk invite fans and experts on Twitter to weigh in on trending topics in design.
February 08, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment living room vertical oak slats
For the modernists among us, these spare spaces are a dream come true.
February 08, 2016
The square fountain at the courtyard's center is a modern rendition of a very traditional feature in many Middle Eastern homes.
From a large gathering space for family or a tranquil sanctuary, these seven designs feature some very different takes on the ancient idea of a courtyard.
February 08, 2016
stdaluminum 021
Since windows and doors are such important aspects of your home, it’s always a good idea to take the time to evaluate how they fit within the lifestyle you want. Whether you’re in the middle of constructing a new home, or you’re considering replacing your current setup, there are multiple elements to consider when it comes time to make the final decisions. Milgard® Windows & Doors understands how vital these choices are to the well-being of your home and has developed ways to turn the process into a journey that can be just as enjoyable as it is fulfilling. Not sure where to start? We gathered some helpful insights from their team of experts to help us better understand what goes into the process of bringing your vision to life.
February 08, 2016
modern fire resistant green boulder loewen windows south facade triple planed low-e glass
These houses in Broncos Country prove modern design is alive in the Rocky Mountains.
February 08, 2016
french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses taste products
Ambience is a key ingredient to any meal—materials, textures, and mood all impart a certain flavor.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016