“Play” proves to be a key attribute of Shift House. Its owners, a family with two small children, asked the architects to design a home rooted in this concept—and the curiosity and creativity that emerges from its practice.
This sense of play starts with the outside. The cladding, a near-45-degree pixelated cedar shake pattern, picks up the contextual coloration of the site, referencing the unpretentious diamond shingle of a fisherman’s shack. Inside, the architects kept on theme, playing on traditional building materials to push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. Exposed galvanized conduit lines, exposed structure and construction-grade plywood cabinetry are all part of the language of the house—a considered composition of coarse and rough materials.
To hew to a smaller footprint and protect the exterior living, the architects created multiple uses for spaces. Nooks abound in which to read, play and daydream. The inside front wall becomes an inspired mudroom pegboard.
A 10-foot drop from front to back provided a unique opportunity to explore volumes within space. Similar to a split-level home, upon entering Shift House you rise to the sleeping quarters, or descend to the living areas, with a flush-on-grade exterior condition in the back. This design leverages stair volume to create a stacked effect, engaging passive cooling. To minimize the materials footprint, the architects used reclaimed pavers in the front yard, with cuts of the foundation wall forming the exterior entry pad. Part of the concrete board form was reused for soffits, while the rough fir planks of the scaffolding were repurposed for planter beds.
Shift House is a home that balances both its connection to the neighbourhood and its modern roots, anchored through a creative expression of play. It was completed with a small yet intimate of team of artisan builders.