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2018 MCHAP

House on Ancaster Creek

Betsy Williamson and Shane Williamson

Ancaster, Canada

November 2016


Williamson Williamson Inc.


Chris Routley/WWInc. (Project Architect) Paul Harrison/WWInc. (Architectural Designer) Dimitra Papantonis/WWInc. (Architectural Designer) Eric Tse /WWInc. (Architectural Designer) Don Chong/WWInc. (Architectural Designer) Ethan Ghidoni/Blackwell Engineering (Structural Engineer) Shannon Hilchie/faet lab (Stair Engineer) Dara Bowser/Bowser Technical Inc. (Mechanical Engineer) David Bernstein/DB Custom Homes Inc. (Builder)


Binh Khong and Michael Weyman


Ben Rahn Williamson Williamson Inc.


With sustainability at the forefront of the design process, the requirement of material durability was paramount. Careful detailing of local materials achieves this. The ground floor of the house is clad in 3-1/2” thick Algonquin limestone. The coursing is designed to highlight the compression that forms this sedimentary rock. 12” tall stones at the top compress to 4” at the bottom. The horizontal joints are raked deep to emphasize the horizontality. Milled cedar clads the upper volumes of the house. The boards were milled with thin shadow lines that create depth in the material and emphasize their verticality. A three-part finishing system extends the life of the wood and reduces the required maintenance work. Pairing cedar cladding and local limestone on the exterior with white oak floors, cabinetry and spiral stair on the interior, connects this modern house to the Southern Ontario landscape. Wood’s inherent warmth, strength, lightness, and malleability combine to create everything from the structural framework for the house to a variety of finish conditions. The figural spiral staircase connects the living room to the second-floor suite. The curvature opens as it rises and becomes the ceiling of the adjacent wing, connecting it to the parents’ suite and tying the spaces together. Structured with laminated plywood, the thin curved railings become structural elements that bridge between the floors. Two thin curved steel plates were required for strength, but they are connected across with the wood risers and treads effectively treating the tight, inner spiral as a post.


The House on Ancaster Creek is an example of owner-driven development, creating a unique solution to the complex issue of aging-in-place. A wide lot backing onto Ancaster Creek is the site for an inter-generational home. In a suburban area designated the Ancaster Creek subwatershed, the house is located at the back of the property near the creek, respecting the meander line to avoid the floodplain of the watercourse. The house was conceived as two distinct residences, one for each generation, formed into linear bars containing the full program of a home. The bars sit perpendicular to each other, creating a landscaped courtyard set back from the street, and stacking at the corner. The parent’s suite occupies the ground floor with the living space anchoring the view. The suite is laid out as a single floor accessible apartment with added features to accommodate the specific challenges facing the ageing parents. Among them, well-located drains and a master power switch mitigate issues that have come with memory loss: a sink left running, or an oven left on. Running parallel to the creek is the main residence. At the south end of the house, the kitchen is set in a double height volume opening to the creek, courtyard, and the sky. The living and dining rooms are shared family spaces for gathering. The small second floor acts as a private suite with a family room, library, and bathroom complimenting a light-filled cantilevered bedroom that reaches out into the best views of the creek.


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