Emerging Talent: Sixteen Degree Studio
In the website photo of Sixteen Degree Studio’s two principals, Kelly Doyle and Stephanie Vermeulen are wearing dark, monochromatic clothing and standing in front of a concrete wall. But even so, this Toronto-based firm’s self-presentation departs significantly from the hyper-serious default setting for young architectural practices: both women are smiling, and the concise, friendly text describes the studio as “organized and personable.”
Doyle, 34, and Vermeulen, 36, met eight years ago as co-workers at Toronto’s Kohn Shnier architects. A good working relationship grew into a strong friendship when they travelled to Europe together, and in 2014, an opportunity to design a house in Port Hope, Ontario, provided the impetus to go out on their own.
The completed project, Augusta House, uses insulated concrete formwork that allows it to occupy a plunging ravine site that had remained undeveloped in a built-up part of town. Clad in hand-formed red brick with cedar siding insets and capped with elementally simple zinc fascia, this house conceals its structural bravura behind an impeccably refined street presence.
Doyle and Vermeulen’s two-person practice now has multiple residential projects and a winery expansion on the go, and has completed a brewpub and a jewelry store. Why the name Sixteen Degree Studio? Toronto’s street grid is rotated sixteen degrees west of north, which means that an apparently north-facing site may actually get a smattering of late-day sun. In other words, a thoughtful study of site and context often reveals potential that isn’t obvious at first glance.