The 4,300-square-foot Compass House by designed by Toronto-based superkül, is a weekend home for a family of six that sits on a predominantly flat 200-acre site in Mulmur, Ontario. the Compass House comprises two volumes arranged in an L-shaped plan with multiple bedrooms and an open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room at the heart. White cement-board cladding wraps the low-slung exteriors, and the warm interiors feature white oak and knotty white cedar floors and walls which glow with the abundant light that reflects off of white ceilings.
“Designed as a weekend home for a family of six, Compass House takes its name from the clients’ desire to chart a new course as they transition from an extended stay in the United Kingdom to life back in Canada. To achieve this, the design of the home transcends ordinary domestic programming, creating a place of spiritual resonance that orients and heightens one’s experience of the surrounding environment. Through its siting, massing, tectonics and materiality, it balances intimacy and expansiveness, light and dark, land and sky.” – superkül
Located on the Niagara Escarpment, this weekend home for a family of six transcends ordinary domestic programming to create a place of spiritual resonance. Through its siting, tectonics and materiality, it balances intimacy and expansiveness, light and dark, land and sky — orienting and heightening one’s experience of the surrounding environment.
With forests to the west, a hill to the south, and 100 acres of fields to the north and east, Compass House is surrounded by a thicket of trees to provide windbreak and a sense of enclosure. Its distinct white exterior registers the seasons, distinct amidst the green fields of summer, and melding into a winter landscape of waning light and snow.
Constructed with fieldstone found on the property, low retaining walls create a plinth for the house and ground it in the land. Two perpendicular wings enclose an intimately scaled outdoor courtyard. In response to the building’s low-lying horizontality, the totemic form of the outdoor fireplace adds a critical vertical counterpoint, as do the judiciously placed skylights in the soaring pitched roof planes of the house, which allow soft washes of light to illuminate the interior.
Inspired by the historical precedent of the longhouse, all rooms and spaces enjoy pronounced natural light and ventilation. A generously scaled yet intimate family space—including kitchen, dining and living areas—forms the central hub, with bedrooms comfortably separated on either end. Floors and walls made from white oak and knotty white cedar are textured and warm. In contrast, the ceiling above the main space is white, expansive and seemingly boundless. The distinct difference in materiality echoes the meeting of land and sky outside.
On the exterior, the firm’s commitment to an architecture that endures is manifest in the use of low-maintenance construction materials such as cement-board siding, aluminum windows and a steel roof. Phase One of the project is LEED Gold-certified, and this commitment to sustainability carries into Phase Two with a design that prioritizes natural daylighting, passive ventilation, high insulation values and construction waste reduction. The provision of an in-ground geothermal system furthers the goal of what is already exceptional energy performance.
Project name: Compass House
Location: Mulmur, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates: 44.248193, -80.132460
- Type By Characteristic: Farm House, Holiday House, Green & Sustainable House
- Type By Site: Countryside / Suburb House
- Type By Size: Large House – (more than 650 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Plaster / Mortar / Masonry House
Site area: 200-acre
Project area: 4,300 sqm
Completion Year: 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: University of Melbourne – Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
- superkül – 2208 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6R 1X3, Canada
Contractor : Wilson Project Management
- Mechanical Engineer: GPY+ Associates Engineering Inc.
- Structural Engineer: Robert E. Brown & Associates Limited (Phase I) Halsall Associates (Phase II)
- Geotechnical Engineer: Terraprobe Inc.
- Civil: EXP Services Inc.
- Surveyor: Van Harten Surveying & Engineering
- Building Science Consultant: Halsall Associates
- Landscape: Whispering Pines Landscaping
- LEED: Greenscape Building Consultants Inc.
Selected suppliers & subcontractors, Manufacturers:
- Manufacturers: Artemide, Benjamin Moore, CertainTeed, Grohe, Guardian, Kohler, Toto, VELUX, Farrow and Ball, Eureka Lighting, Blanco, FSB, Axis Lighting, MP Lighting, Belfer, Lacava, Bocci, Roll&Hill, Davey Lighting, SimonsWerk + 1
Text Description: © Courtesy of superkül
Images: © superkül, Ben Rahn / A-Frame Studio