Shifting Shards: Hadaway Snow Country House by Patkau Architects

A sculptural piece of architecture sits on a sloped site somewhere in British Columbia, that, for me, is a joy to behold. The Hadaway snow country house, designed by Patkau Architects, is a confluence of functionality, and deliberate aesthetic intent.

The permissible building footprint and the need to appropriately shed snow which birth a striking, angled form that somehow maintains spatial integrity on the inside. The main level is essentially one large space with living, dining and kitchen areas and an outdoor deck all of which open up to a nice view of the surrounding vista. A vertical crevice of space runs under the highest roof ridge, bisecting the warped volume and bringing light to the deepest part of the section and plan. Stairs rise within this rift and a bridge crosses it at the upper level connecting master suite to study.

Below, on the lowest level, are more intimate spaces housing guest bedrooms and a second living area, as well as a large service space. Accessible directly from the garage entrance to the house, this service space supports life in snow country – where wet clothes are hung to dry or thrown directly into the laundry, where skiers can store all the paraphernalia of their day’s activities. Another stair connects this lower level to an outdoor patio below the house, the only level ground on the steep site other than that at the front entrance.

Construction is a hybrid of monolithic and framed systems. The slabs and walls which enclose the lower floor are concrete, while the uppermost levels are a composite steel and heavy timber structure with wood-frame infill.

The entire structure is sheathed with a monolithic screen of open-spaced 2 x 6 cedar board cladding over conventional roof and wall assemblies.

The thermal mass of the lower concrete structure dampens temperature swings within the house in summer and winter. In summer the interior is naturally cooled and ventilated by drawing air from the lowest level on the north side of the house to vent at the top of the central rift.


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