In a prairie-value, conservative-minded early 20th century Winnipeg suburb composed primarily of large-scale, traditional-style dwellings, our clients sought a home in which to age in place with a high level of privacy. Approached from the inside out, the design is informed by a desire for airiness rather than a formal response to the aesthetics of neighbouring homes. The project brief is typical for a suburban mid-block lot: privacy is essential, yet at the same time, the atmosphere should be open, airy and warm. The innovation in this project lies in the ability to balance this duality, experimenting with materials in new ways and testing planning strategies that provide both.
Taking advantage of Winnipeg’s sunny climate, all interior spaces are oriented around a central courtyard. A loose 9-square grid is configured as a series of fluid open living spaces [living, family, dining, kitchen, circulation] & solid utility blocks [washroom, laundry, fireplace, storage, appliances], eliminating the need for traditional walls with doors as a means to move between rooms. This concept is reinforced by completely wrapping each block in one material.
Unusual in a place where snow cover can last up to 6 months of the year, the house is deliberately placed at grade to provide universal access across the ground floor, courtyard and surrounding property.
The project is fit to accommodate families for generations. The contrasting desire for privacy & openness has been a lasting question in the villa typology, where the Veil House approaches it with simple planning & cladding strategies that offer texture, warmth, airiness & security.
A single-family home creates room for architectural experimentation with a specific family’s domestic life. In Winnipeg, where suburban sprawl has shaped much of the city’s architectural identity, infill projects in these neighbourhoods are important sites to test new housing concepts. The Veil House challenges the status-quo & brings a new design sensibility to the community.
Veil House is arranged on a nine-square grade around a central courtyard, with a series of free-flowing communal spaces framed by solid utility blocks, altogether cloaked by a weathered steel "veil".
The house is situated at-grade with a distinctive interior ramp connecting to the upper level, creating a seamless extension from inside to out and allowing natural light into the core of the basement.
CNC cut and welded on-site, the weathering steel veil cloaks the house in its entirety, perforating over windows and peeling off over balconies and entrance points, providing a sense of heaviness or lightness depending on the viewer’s position. It functions as a series of running bond preformed panels, their modulation a direct response to the particular needs of each room, relationships to each other and to the surrounding context. Panels are either perforated or opaque; where the veil tightly wraps windowed facades, the panels are perforated to permit light to pass through in both directions. In plan, the veil peels away from the structure to create interstitial spaces at grade and on the upper floor patio. Though the veil produces very different geometries in plan and elevation, it cohesively integrates shadow and light play in its opacity and pattern.
The Veil House is a stunning project that showcases the firm's creativity, attention to detail and functionality, while remaining committed to pushing boundaries in architecture.
5468796 Architecture is a Winnipeg-based design studio established in 2007. Working around a single table, the office unites the diverse knowledge and experience of twenty professionals pursuing a critical architectural response to contemporary issues in multi-family housing and urban design.
Locally driven yet globally relevant, the firm’s work has been recognized with every significant Canadian design award and a growing number of important international prizes. Firm recognitions include: DOMUS Magazine's 2020 Top 50 Architects, the Rice Design Alliance Spotlight Award, the RAIC’s inaugural Emerging Architectural Practice Award, 2012 representation of Canada at the Venice Biennale in Architecture and the 2013 Prix de Rome Award in Architecture for Canada by the Canada Council for the Arts.