Situated in a dense neighborhood in the city of Calgary, this home is the primary residence for a young family of Norwegian descent. Bordered on the north by the Elbow River, the owners desired a Modernist home that would maintain their privacy from the busy neighborhood as well as open to views of the river and city.
Raised above the street to respect a 100-year floodplain, the house is composed of three elements: a two-story entry hall, a one-story living pavilion to the east, and a cantilevered wood box to the west enclosing the sleeping and bathing spaces.
Steel frames extend through the house to form a double-height entry hall framing a view of the downtown skyline and separating the living pavilion from the sleeping and bath spaces. Cedar slats screen the private spaces while aluminum louvers at the second level glazing shade the interior. A steel and wood stair leads to the second level bedrooms, offering views of downtown Calgary and the pavilion’s planted roof.
The living room is sheltered from the busy street by a translucent glass screen and a grove of aspen trees. The dining room, kitchen and family room are arranged along the north side of the pavilion overlooking a lit view of the garden and river. A steel spine runs the length of the pavilion, framing a roof monitor that brings light and ventilation into the center of the house. Two fireplaces, a stair to the lower level and cabinets for storage are located within the exposed structure.
The largely transparent pavilion contrasts with the two-story cedar-clad volume enclosing the sleeping and bathing spaces to the west. Due to local regulations that limit windows looking into a neighboring property, openings on the west elevation become angled cuts in the volume, capturing views while maintaining privacy.
Sustainable design strategies are integrated with the architecture: deep overhangs and horizontal louvers shade the interior from the summer sun, the pavilion’s planted roof mitigates storm water runoff and photovoltaic panels are used to generate hot water. Operable windows are carefully placed to encourage natural ventilation.
Rigorous in detail and bold in spirit, the house is a pavilion along the river offering a place for retreat from the busy city and a closer connection to the natural world.
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- HR Pacific