Ell House is a project by Ravi Handa Architect, in collaboration with AAmp Studio. It was designed to be a vacation home that connects the visitor to the vast surrounding landscape. Upon approach, the building’s dark silhouette brings the immediate environment into sharp contrast. Its simple lines are inspired by Prince Edward County’s rural vernacular. While the gable roof is reminiscent of the region’s barns, the L shape references the extensions built on farmhouses over generations.
The client’s objective was to separate the private areas from the communal spaces. Therefore, each of the two wings has its own purpose—the sleeping area with its four bedrooms and two baths, and the common area where the kitchen, dining room and living room flow seamlessly into one another. The building’s form is also a technical response to the area’s prevailing south-westerly winds. One wing shields the other, providing a peaceful indoor and outdoor living area.
The glass vestibule is the first point of contact when visiting the house. Connecting the two structures, it serves as a decompression chamber of sorts. Spacious and generous in both natural light and expansive views, the room provides a moment of relaxation and sense of arrival. You can set your luggage down, take in the waterfront, then access the common area to the left or the bedrooms to the right.
The natural surroundings are showcased by the windows and doors. Special attention was given to the location of each opening. In the common area, large sliding doors frame the courtyard and water beyond. The vast lake and rural landscape can be admired from the master bedroom or dining room table. The kitchen window allows one to see when guests arrive, and the small square window in the living room is a nod to the owner’s youngest son, as well as a way to invite all generations to gather in the same space. In the bedroom hallway, the windows are aligned in front of each door to promote natural ventilation while bathing the area with a rhythmic play of light in the afternoon.
In both wings, a palette of natural materials and understated colours creates an interior that’s minimalistic yet inviting. To add to the common area’s warmth, the kitchen, dining room and living room share the same bright, airy space where the cathedral ceiling accentuates the openness and serves as a reminder of the house’s form. The exterior’s monochrome aesthetic, emphasized by its charred cedar cladding, reflects the contrasts at play with the outside world.
By virtue of its simple lines, Ell House magnifies the stark contrast of its natural setting while providing a peaceful living space that embodies the notion of shelter while encouraging its guests to connect directly with nature.
At first glance, Ell House’s dark silhouette brings its natural surroundings into sharp contrast. Inspired by Prince Edward County’s rural vernacular, the gable roof and L shape are also a technical response to the area’s prevailing winds. One wing shields the other, providing a peaceful indoor and outdoor living area that embodies the notion of shelter.
Ell House was designed to respond to site and environmental conditions at various scales. At the scale of the interior spaces, the natural surroundings are showcased by the careful placement of windows and doors. The location of windows promote natural cross ventilation where most necessary. On a larger scale, the two wings of the residence are oriented to buffer powerful prevailing winds that are particular to the region. This design (formal approach) dramatically reduces energy loss and allows for generous window coverage in the common area, which would otherwise be problematic in a nordic climate. This sensitive approach to site allowed each element of the program to have a meaningful relationship with the outside world.
The muted interior palette, composed of mainly natural materials (white-washed pine ceiling, light oak millwork, white cabinetry) seamlessly blends the kitchen, dining and living area, without drawing attention away from the adjacent views of the landscape. The intent is to achieve a a minimalistic aesthetic while remaining inviting.
On the exterior, the dark charred cedar cladding (charred by hand in the Japanese tradition of Shou Sugi Ban) seeks a monochrome aesthetic to accentuate the stark contrast between the house and the landscape. The charring also provides compelling textures at various scales, all while protecting the wood from pests and water damage.
1. Facade cladding: Charred cedar cladding, handcrafted in the Japanese tradition of Shou Sugi Ban, by Blackwood Siding.
2. Flooring: Polished concrete, N/A
3. Doors: Aluminum and pine, Kneer-Süd Fenster
4. Windows: Aluminum and pine, Kneer-Süd Fenster
5. Roofing: Steel cladding