The family home with Universal appeal

Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada
universal house, groenesteijn architecten groenesteijn architecten Modern houses
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The architects designed this family home by redeveloping the existing site – previously, two sheds stood on the property, and now, two homes occupy the place where they once stood. The two homes aren't identical, but they are designed with a similar aesthetic so as to sit nicely together as a pair. 

The design of these houses is what the architects call a Universal style – an experimental split-level structure in which each floor has a distinct function. A centrally located staircase winds through the entire house, connecting the collection of rooms similar to how a backbone runs down the center of the body. Because of this centric design, the home maintains a rich sense of interconnectivity and movement throughout the numerous levels of the home.

​Brick exterior

The simple brick exterior uses a time-tested material to blend in with the rest of this 19th-century neighborhood. However, the large scale and contemporary shape of the home serve to distinguish it from its next door neighbors. One highly unusual aspect of this home is the way the front porch has been designed to appear as an interlocking piece of the home, a metal-framed structure that pushes into the base of the house.

​Modern pergola

Here's modern take on a highly traditional structure – this pergola features a steely grey frame and ultra fine appearance that brings a high-tech edge to this traditional design. From this view, you can see the reflective Falzinc roof, an environmentally friendly alternative to zinc. 

Once the rest of the site has been developed (the architects are still building the second home in this image), this pergola will enjoy a lovely view of a quiet, grassy backyard.

Upkeep your own patio or porch this winter with this ideabook: A simple guide to winterizing your patio

​Split-level design

Here on the ground floor, you begin to see the central role that stairs and leveled verticality play in this home's design. Two staircases are found in this view – one providing a series of smaller steps to the dining room area, and another staircase with thicker steps that provide leveled seating. 

A small stove has been placed on the ground floor for heating the home – as the home maintains an open central shaft connecting all the space, the heat will be able to travel efficiently upwards throughout the house.

​Dining room

This simple dining room is one half-level up from the ground floor, with a unique design that provides a slight sense of aloofness or distance as the dining room looks down upon the entrance below. 

This room, like the other rooms of the home, sits on a solid concrete floor (you can see this concrete surface looking up at the ceiling as well), with the changeable elements like the walls, stairs, and table made from softwood.

​Central staircase

The design of this staircase is obviously in the foreground for this vertical, level-based layout. These stairs serve to create separate spaces on every level by mostly blocking the view, while still maintaining a sense of openness and airflow with a clever cut-out design. The step motif is found throughout the home, especially apparent in the blocky white wooden wall that draws crisp corners along the side of the stairs.

What do you think of this split-level home? Comment below!

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