Canadian Architect

Feature

Emerging Talent: Sixteen Degree Studio

July 14, 2017
by Pamela Young

Kelly Doyle, Stephanie Vermeulen. Photo by Michael Doyle

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.

Augusta House is built using insulated concrete formwork that facilitates the structural requirements for building on a steep ravine slope. The concrete’s thermal mass minimizes heating and cooling needs. Photo by Bob Gundu

Augusta House is built using insulated concrete formwork that facilitates the structural requirements for building on a steep ravine slope. The concrete’s thermal mass minimizes heating and cooling needs. Photo by Bob Gundu

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.

Clad with dark metal siding to blend with surrounding pine trees, Balsam Boathouse includes a wet slip, dry storage and upper loft. Photo by Kelly Doyle

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.