STUFF (Studio for Transformative Urban Forms and Fields)
WINNER OF A 2016 CANADIAN ARCHITECT AWARD OF MERIT
Described as “an urban co-habitation prototype,” C House is a co-housing concept that responds to the lifestyle needs of a wide spectrum of household types, from retired empty nesters to students sharing a space, to young families.
Occupying a basement level and three above-ground storeys on a site in Winnipeg, the three-dimensional jigsaw of living spaces is distributed around a core of infrastructural needs, including circulation and washrooms. On either side of the core are living areas, which can be configured for various uses, as well as shared collective spaces: a communal dining space on the first level, a second-floor laundry and rest area, and a roof deck. The split-level distribution of spaces around the core, coupled with the alternating front/back orientation of the side-by-side units, allows for a balance of privacy and social interaction between the tenants.
At the street edge, a set of steps invites passersby to pause, sit or converse, while simultaneously demarcating a transition between public and more private space. A planted slope in front of the building, together with wide stairways inside, encourages social encounters between tenants. The carport at the back of C House is conceived like a boathouse, with transparent doors and an upper level annex that tenants can use as a studio office or for storage.
A dark brick skin, perforated with openings and brise-soleils, gives C House a unified presence at the urban level.
Manon Asselin :: A number of housing projects that were submitted to the awards have circled back to the post-war preoccupation with housing. Housing, as a social concern and field of research, was subsequently somewhat abandoned by architects and became driven by developers. As a result, we have built lots of condominium projects where the most important design parameters are efficiency and cost. It’s interesting to see housing being re-invested by architects in such a sensitive way, with a concern for community and everyday-ness. C House is an example of this. The drawings are also very interesting and intriguing, with a surreal, almost Alice-in-Wonderland quality to them.
Patricia Patkau :: C House is rigorous in its exploration of program. Its design tests the precise dimensions of the human body and makes sure that the scenarios fit inside the space. The resulting house can accommodate all sorts of different lifestyles and family units, and as you grow older, you can redefine the space to fit your needs.
David Sisam :: What I think is key about this project is that the living spaces of the house type are not over-designed. They are calibrated to particular dimensions that work for a variety of occupation scenarios, which are tested with various furniture layouts. The core, with its potential for variable edges and stairs to either side, anchors and divides the living space. Less convincing is the exterior expression of the project as a whole.
Client Gea Ok Jeon | Structural Wolfrom Engineering | Area 6,000 ft2 (3,000 ft2 per unit) | Budget Withheld | Status Design development, expected completion 2018