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2018 MCHAP.emerge

Bridge House

Mariana Leguia

Port Sydney, Canada

July 2016


Mariana Leguia/LLAMA urban design Angus Laurie/LLAMA urban design


Patrick Webb/LLAMA urban design (Collaborator) Alvaro Rivadeneira/LLAMA urban design (Collaborator) Mike Feindel/Blackwell structural engineers (Project engineer)




Ben Rahn


To emphasize the house’s character as a bridge, the design reveals its structural system. The most important elements are the two inverted V-shaped glulam struts from which the house is suspended. These are offset from the lakefront and forest facades allowing the front window to have a 12 meter opening towards the lake and a staircase towards the forest. The 2 glulam struts support five steel I-Beams which carry the floor and roof assemblies. The ensemble produces a sense of lightness true to the house’s character as a bridge. The precise plans enabled the prefabrication of the principal structural components offsite. This meant that these could be mounted in less than a week. The drawings systematized the interior cladding to reduce waste material and labor costs. The wood finishes were locally sourced from trees that are common on the property; maple for the interior, and unstained cedar for the exterior. The exclusive use of maple for the interior cladding, and fixed furniture gives a unifying character. This achieves a muted and rational quality that contrasts and compliments the wild character of the Canadian north.



The house balances open spaces to observe the changing landscape with sheltered corners. The symmetrical layout places a family unit, with 2 bedrooms a small foyer and one bathroom at each end. These are connected to the suspended living area through a linear library built as fixed furniture into the rear wall of the house. The more public programs, including the kitchen, living room and dining room are at the center of the house. This area is intended as a flexible space, adaptable to any number of uses. This layout creates privacy between the owners and their guests. The circulation corresponds to the principal of providing open public areas, and sheltered private areas, by controlling the access in four separate paths: - Each family unit has its own exit at each end of the house - The stairs work as a semi-public entrance, allowing access between the central area of the house and the open roof terrace - The house also works as a bridge, facilitating public access from one side of the ravine to the other - The house is a landmark for a public path which leads down to the beach The bridge house was set further back from the lake than required to protect mature trees, and to allow the landscape to remain as natural as possible. It works within the dichotomy of being both a shelter and a balcony in the woods, a bridge and a house.

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