Curio House, Richmond BC

ARCHITECT Haeccity Studio Architecture

Haeccity Studio Architecture has recently completed a single-family home that integrates a classical Chinese residential composition with state-of-the-art construction. The location, in Richmond, BC, is appropriate—with an established East Asian demographic, the residence poetically responds to the cultural intersection of East meeting West.

Photo Credit: Ema Peter

Haeccity co-founder Shirley Shen speaks to this theme as an expression of the clients’ personal story as Chinese scholars and residents of the neighbourhood for nearly fifty years: “The strong north-south axis and progression through space along the cardinal line comes from a completely eastern perspective, but the architectural language is of its current time and place.”

The layout intentionally alludes to some of the fundamental principles of feng shui and the siheyuan courtyard typology, which carries a 2,000 year history. Essentially a covered courtyard surrounded by buildings on four sides, the building borrows from a traditional hierarchy in the layering of spaces. A guest is received at the south end where the foyer is separated from the living space, and invited northwards should they share enough intimacy. Furthest north is private space reserved for the head of the household.

Photo Credit: Ema Peter

“Because the clients have a large extended family and regularly receive visitors, we wanted to think of it more as a village than a house. It’s a collection of private pods that plug into the large central shared space,” elaborates principal Travis Hanks.

The architects sought to connect the central space with the outdoors, by opting for double-height NLT (nail-laminated timber) ceilings, automated clerestory windows, and French doors looking out to the garden at the back. At the entry, a rock garden and cedar wood cladding flows from outside to inside. The private wings are differentiated in their volume by alternate cladding that transitions seamlessly past insulated glazing systems.

The single level, zero-barrier layout will allow for ageing-in-place. The home is fully accessible and incorporates custom components such as a height-adjustable motorized island and zero-threshold shower. Other elements that were inspired by the client’s heritage include a family banquet table with flush inlaid Lazy Susan, and a sleek curio made of steel and oak—both handcrafted by local industrial designer Ko Júbilo.

Shen and Hanks’s design offers a fresh take on the notion of the archetypal builder-grade production home. Instead of the standard frontal multi-car garage, they opt for a single 24-foot-wide top-hung bi-fold door. Concealed by full height Douglas fir cladding that runs uninterrupted into the foyer, the door forms a second facade that invites curiosity about the dwelling beyond.