Public presence / private lives This residence attempts to reconcieve the prevailing urban townhouse typology, originally intended as a single-family dwelling, as a multiple dwelling which makes discreet zones for both owner and tenant; seamlessly integrating public presence with private life. Ultimately, both family and tenant reside within their separate personal space while the urban street reads as a contiguous system of townhouses each with their own occupant.
Though the house was originally designed for a single family it quickly became evident that a supportive economic component would be necessary. Programmatically, a duplex consisting of the ground and second floor operates as the family home complete with garage, utility/laundry room and grassy lawn. Three bedrooms, three baths and an office area complete the ubiquitous list ideal to suburbia. On the third and final floor, is a two bedroom rental unit. In section, the rental unit is nested into the second floor of the duplex affording visual privacy to the rear garden below while pulling back and opening out as a terrace adjacent to the street. The duplex is organized in reverse; with a more opaque and subtle street presence, the combined kitchen, dining and living areas open up to a storey and a half of storefront onto the Owner’s private rear yard. Effectively, the house operates as a negotiator between the units and their ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces.
Utilizing available standard cedar board sizing, the front façade reads as moiré or variegated skin, securely masking the separate entrances of each dwelling as well as the Owner’s garage. The façade unifies these disparate elements and integrates the house into the urban context of the street. Within the duplex, the line between interior and exterior, owner and tenant is further blurred. On the first floor, the open space extends directly from the street into the family’s garden while on the second floor the stairs ascend directly to a glazed façade, spatially pushing the ceiling and opening towards the sky, reinforcing the interior/exterior connection.
Material selection responds to a series of constraints which provide order and unify the separate residence by a single code. Throughout the building all horizontal surfaces (countertops, stair treads or shelving) are white – their material changing properties of hardness or density depending on function. In each bathroom, a series of composite hues are created by mixing penny tiles with colored grout, while vertical built-ins such as wardrobes and desk fronts are made of riff cut white oak. Effectively, these constraint reinforce the unity of the building and clandestine nature of the rental unit within; one could pass through the entire building and read it as a cohesive whole.