Another row house, another four-person family, another set of parents, and another two children. Another challenge to take on.
The design deals with an issue that is characteristic of this kind of project: is it better to refurbish the original building or tear it down and build something new? In this case, the answer is unclear. On the one hand, the structure at the back of the house has been damaged due to a lack of maintenance on the roof. The stairwell also needs to be torn out to make room for a parking area (one of the client’s non-negotiable requests). That requires a rather large surface area of new construction. On the other hand, the original building has the charm of a 100-year-old house, and the rest of the structure and building envelope can be kept and refurbished.
The design strategy responds to the state of the building, which we have just described. All the existing elements that can be conserved are left unclad and painted. All the new construction – the stairwell structure, the extension into the back yard, and the new loft space which takes advantage of the height at the middle of the pitched roof – is done in large-format cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. These panels are left untreated. As a result, the new wooden elements – of a single color, unpainted and continuous – contrast with the older elements (beams, tiles, brick, and plaster), which are varied, irregular, and painted white.
The living spaces are distributed into a continuous alternating series of old-white and new-wood. On the ground floor, an entryway with a vestibule and a storage loft on top leads into the garage. The foyer, a guest bathroom, and the stairway act as a buffer for the kitchen-dining room. The living room connects the kitchen to the back yard. The yard is divided into a terrace, a garden, and a paved area. On the second floor, the main bedroom facing the street is separated from the stairway by a vertical service core where the bathrooms are located. From the stairway, the study can be closed off or open to the children’s bedroom, the playroom with storage closets, and the terrace. The staircase continues up to the loft, a single open space that looks out over the study.
The construction solutions for the newly built area (façade and roof) resolve insulation issues and prevent thermal bridging. The new façade and the exposed party walls are covered with insulation on the exterior and then rendered (exterior thermal insulation system). Extruded polystyrene (XPS) is installed in both the new and existing roofs. The façade facing the street is insulated from the inside using drywall paneling and mineral wool. The existing floor slab is reinforced, to cut down on vibration, with a new layer of polished concrete which also serves as the pavement. All the windows are switched out, and new adjustable shades are added to control sun exposure. The energy renovation of the house and other features is achieved.
We feel we have lived up to the challenge inasmuch as we have addressed the clients’ issues while offering something extra.