The Parallelogram House Helps Reshape a Sleepy Canadian City
Founded by Sasa Radulovic, originally from Sarajevo, and Johanna Hurme, from Helsinki, the 5468796 Architecture collective explores a different approach to siting, one that abandons traditional footprints in favor of houses that respond to their lots. In setting up shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the pair came to a place quite antithetical to that concept.
Winnipeg is a Canadian prairie city, sprawling in size if only middling in population, where the idea of rigorous space planning has held little value.
Although the city’s arts community is vibrant—and there’s a legacy of both early-20th-century architecture and midcentury modernism—Winnipeg is still largely a rugged, traditional kind of town.
Some of 5468796’s community projects naturally drew flak. One especially controversial structure was the Cube, an open-air performance venue in an aluminum chainmail skin. Critics decried the hypermodern piece in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District. But the strong reaction got people thinking, and talking, about architecture. It also gave 5468796—the name is a reference to the firm’s company registration number—a reputation as a group with a deep understanding of geometry, which is reflected in their residential work as well.
One such project, Parallelogram House, is located in a suburban neighborhood of mostly shingle and stucco houses on spacious lots. The owners, Rachel and Nolan Ploegman, have two boys, ages seven and five, and a five-month-old daughter. Nolan, the president of a construction company, had collaborated with 5468796 on other projects. When the couple decided they wanted something different for their own house, Rachel says, "We knew Johanna and Sasa were the right people."
With its wood-and-metal cladding and bent-plate Cor-Ten columns, the 2,700-square-foot home stands out from its neighbors. It is spread over a single story, with an unusual parallelogram shape that fills the width of the narrow site. Hurme notes its form is not just an architectural whim. "Every geometrical shape should come from the requirement of the program or the site," she says.