Ottawa’s McKellar Park, developed in the 1950s, has emerged as a highly desired inner suburb with mature trees, green parks and a pleasant, but eclectic, mix of primarily two-storey homes. The mandate for the Wavell Street Residence required replacing a couple’s long time, but structurally problematic, home with a new design reflecting the individuality of the neighbourhood’s houses, but without imposing a major jolt. Consistent with Linebox’s approach, the new house focuses less on being a unique architectural object and more on respecting its context; responding fully to the specific life-needs and desires of its inhabitants.
The clients, empty-nesters with a taste for cool design and a keen perception of space, appreciated the importance of openness and natural light. In addition, given their frequent dinner events, the residence’s core just had to be its kitchen. As a result, an integrated series of animated volumes encloses an interior that is sculptured both vertically and horizontally. Except for a very functional entrance hallway and mud room tucked along the south wall and extending from the entrance to the back garden door, the first floor remains fully open. This openness ensures full engagement between the chef-at-work and guests, mediated only by a massive, concrete-topped island complete with integrated wood cutting boards. The well-equipped kitchen sits under a generous open office loft above, while the voluminous living room is a full two-storeys topped by a skylight.
Architecture, the great Swiss Designer Le Corbusier stated, is “forms assembled in the light,” and in the Wavell Residence, natural light plays a vital role. A large window on the eastern street-side both welcomes the morning sun and ensures the house presents openness to the community. Through the day, high windows on the two-storey north wall ensure privacy while teasing in crisp northern light augmented by additional natural light from the skylight. An expansive garden-facing west window picks up responsibility for catching the late afternoon and evening light. In warm weather, a roof terrace reached by an enclosed stair separating the master bedroom from the loft, is the perfect retreat to relax as dusk falls.
There is a casual whimsy in both Wavell’s free flowing, light drenched interior and its robust approach to the street. Viewed from the latter, the house’s height and width corresponds respectfully to its neighbours. In contrast, a flat roofline and playful mix of vertical and horizontal lines in stained and unstained cedar volumes clearly establishes its own unique Modernist credentials.
Construction: The Lake Partnership
Photography: DoubleSpace Photography