Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Jay S. Lim, OAA, AIA, LEED AP
In the 1950s the Canadian Home & Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) developed hundreds of plans for low cost houses for working class citizens. The intent was for the homes to be renovated and to grow in parallel with the size and wealth of the residents. The B.AM house is named after the initials of the owners and builds on the intentions of the CMHC. The renovation creates a new kitchen, as well as bathrooms and bedrooms for the growing family.
The design takes its cues from this traditional housing type. The original A-frame roof line was kept and extended along the front and rear facades to create a cape which created a semi-enclosed outdoor space. The new second floor bedrooms are nestled under the dormers and are punctuated by large windows. Although the footprint is small, the rooms are flooded with natural light and connect the residents with the surrounding landscape.
The “Cape” is a design feature that extends the existing roofline to create new porches at the front and rear of the house. The house is clad in a white corrugated metal l which is economical and robust. The high albedo helps reflect heat during the summer months, thereby reducing energy costs to keep the house cool. The house is highlighted with natural cedar in the dormers and in the Cape’s soffit. The wood provides a welcoming warmth and glow to the house. The Cape is open at strategic locations to both frame views and create thresholds of privacy. A long vertical slot is carved in front of the living room window. This creates a framed view of the mature maple tree in the front yard. Additionally, the slot enables rain water to naturally water the planter bed directly below the living room window. The entryway is punctuated by a horizontal opening which is optimized for the residents to look out while enjoying meals at their dining room table.
The simple architectural design create a striking and balanced composition which respects the history of the home while creating a unique structure bespoke for the family and the neighbourhood.