Urbanscape Group, based in Toronto, Canada, is a young, multi-disciplinary design and consulting firm which focuses largely on contemporary design for multi-unit residential, private residential projects, commercial buildings, and corporate interiors. One of their most characteristic and recent projects is the Shaft House, built in 2010 in Toronto, Canada.
Designed by Urbanscape Group partner Ali Malek-Zadeh and Reza Aliabadi—OAA of atelier rzlbd, Shaft House is a modern infill 2 ½ storey detached single family home. Shaft House is so called because the design revolves around a central skylight that opens to every level—flooding the home with natural sunlight—resulting a light and airy spacious feeling. The shaft of light coming from the southern exposure, cleverly divides the public and private areas of the house, with the northern side of the house reserved for bedrooms which employs a shading system on the street side of the residence to enhance privacy. The home can easily be configured for 2 or 3 bedrooms.
Only 16-feet wide, the building reminded me immediately of similar projects built in the Netherlands, where narrow front land plots are a normal thing and space is at a minimum. The masterful arrangement of the floor-plan defines the building and manages to cover all aspects of it’s owners life while at the same time following both the aesthetic of the architects and the planning laws of the area.
The architects used basic materials: rusted steel, aluminum, and untreated wood. They are more sustainable than those used traditionally in the area like brick, shingle, and stone. The reason behind their choice is because less production energy as well as embedded energy in transportation is required for these. And their aging process makes the building blend even better with the surrounding area.
Shaft House is using low-cost building strategies to encourage the potentiality of urban-regeneration and aesthetic rejuvenation. And although it does come as a bit different than the neighbouring buildings, it still is a part of the total area with its materials and building techniques used. It manages to create an economically efficient, sustainable and responsive housing design through function and innovation.