Tesseract House / Phaedrus Studio

Text description provided by the architects. Located in Toronto’s western lakeside streetcar suburb, this single-family residence proves contextual while owing little to convention and serving as the antithesis to recent vernaculars. By simply and unconventionally engaging the immediate context this contemporary alternative has an impactful, yet unimposing outward presence. This geometry and the depth of experience from which the house derives its name is not provocatively innovative but nuanced, both simple and complex, revealing itself over time. All of this within the constraints of conventional local residential construction, the Tesseract House unapologetically desires to be more than just a place to live.
First Floor Plan
A self-initiated, architect-led design-develop-build project, Tesseract house was not designed with a specific client in mind. Rather, it was conceived as a business case to prove that one can create great contemporary architecture that fulfills a demand in the marketplace, while demonstrating that unbridled creativity generates innovative and artful spaces, using conventional and readily available construction methods. All of this was accomplished without breaking the bank and with a typical budget for a house of this kind.
Second Floor Plan
The project has no programmatic limitations, enabling the design team to experiment with, and implement ideas that would not typically be seen in more conventional homes. The responses to the site constraints informed the big design ideas in order to allow the house to function well as a dwelling as well as be of the highest comfort standards, in relation to having access to natural light and fresh air. This intent was carried all the way down to the detailing of the house where the various textures and materials are elegantly and thoughtfully joined together.
Cambridge is a small city, but it has a rich architectural and library heritage that provides context for this project. The Old Post Office is just one of a wealth of historic brick and limestone buildings lining Water Street, including a stately brick Carnegie library, one of three built in the area. These nineteenth-century libraries used classical architecture to show the value placed on knowledge and ideas. With their reimagining of the Idea Exchange Old Post Office, juxtaposing brick and slate with glass and metal, RDHA has made the same statement in an updated architectural language, and shown the value in merging the historical with the contemporary. And while the Idea Exchange Old Post Office is bookless, the Idea Exchange Queen’s Square branch, with an extensive book collection, is only a short walk away.

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