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COLLABORATOR: Jerin Dunsmoor

TSAWWASSEN, B.C. – The 700 square foot building footprint of this addition betrays its 1500 square feet of new inhabitable space in the interior. The design and construction of this renovation was a challenging exercise in finding
and transforming unused space.

Located on a generous corner lot, the project required the transformation of the existing three bedroom house in order to accommodate a family of five and their grandmother, who wished to be close to her family while desiring privacy and independence. This meant the creation of an independent two bedroom suite attached to the existing house, as well as the addition of four bedrooms (three bedrooms and a master bedroom with an ensuite).

Although the zoning and property area allowed for an extensive addition, the initial house walk-through led to the discovery of vast amounts of built but uninhabitable space within the trussed roofs of the existing garage and a large portion of the existing house.

After exploring a number of different design options and possibilities, it was mutually decided that making use of the unused roof spaces was the best
option. This would maximize the use of existing spaces, open up a number of interesting spatial possibilities, and control cost and size of the new construction.

The design replaced the trussed roofs with vaulted inhabitable space that accommodated the creation of the required four bedrooms. The careful manipulation of interior walls also extended the mezzanine and allowed for the enlargement of the existing bathroom on the second level. The new circulation space leading to the added sleeping quarters was opened up into the living room below, and was constructed overwide. It therefore became a room in itself, allowing for a number of future uses.

In addition to artificial light, this circulation room maximized the natural light received by the bedrooms through using interior transom windows. The result is the creation of a light-filled, open indoor environment that maintains the privacy of its inhabitants.

The two bedroom, independent suite was created by reconfiguring the interior partitions of the existing house and constructing a new south facing barrier-free addition on-grade that accommodated an entry, living space, and dining room.

All of the public spaces – kitchen, dining, living, and entry – flow
freely into one another in a radiating pattern, preventing the constricted feeling often associated with living in smaller spaces while simultaneously defining a privacy gradient as one travels through the home. The construction of varying ceiling heights and the location of windows also work towards this end.

Two covered exterior spaces – a large east porch facing the main street to the east and a smaller, more private west facing porch opening towards the
rear on the house – were designed as areas that extending interior living to the outdoors and vice versa. This idea was clearly made manifest by incorporating the rough 8 x 8 fir posts used to define the porches into the
living space. Window locations also serve to visually connect the public spaces into the protected spaces of the porches.

These semi-interior spaces serve as transition zones between inside and outside. They are sheltered platforms from which to view the garden-yard and interact with street life. The creation of the east porch also served to visually enhance the stone work of the existing structure.

The dining space projects into the rear yard, implicitly dividing the property and defining different spaces with varying levels of privacy. In contrast to the airy environment of the roof renovation, the suite
is an environment strongly connected to the ground.

Detailing and material choices were collaboratively decided upon and focused on making the new seamlessly blend with the existing. Custom details include the solid fir open shelving in the suite kitchen, cupboard handles created from Manzanita wood, and various pieces of furniture – all of which were designed and constructed in-house.

An environmental consciousness permeates all aspects of the design and detailing. For example, window locations and overhangs were designed to enhance cross ventilation and minimize heat gain in the summer while maximizing solar gain in the winter in accordance with the long established knowledge of the prevalent yearly wind directions and annual solar path.

Furthermore, the rough 8 x 8 columns used on the exterior porches carry reused fir beams received from a demolished cannery nearby. Beautiful reused fir flooring also bless the bedrooms constructed within the roof.

The complexity and ultimate success of this project is a tribute to the collaborative process involved in its making. The final result is an addition that reflects the values and requirements of its users, as well as the subtleties of its context.