Monday, July 16, 2012

Beaverbrook, Kanata, Townhouses

One of my favourite areas for mid-century modern eye candy is the Beaverbrook neighbourhood of Kanata. The architecture of this area is a perfect example of a Canadian take on the mid-century modern style.

The very first houses built in Beaverbrook were in 1965, and they were townhouses. Since there are so many fabulous designs in the area, which warrant multiple blog postings, this particular post will be on the townhouses of Beaverbrook.

This particular complex won a 1967 Canadian Housing Design Council Award. 

The original design was praised for its use of wood, cedar shingle and aged bricks to give the warmth of natural materials. Sadly, recent renovations of these townhouses replaced the wood and cedar shingles with siding and asphalt shingle roofs. While they may now be easier to maintain, the houses no longer blend in with the natural environment as they once did. Below is what the houses look like now.

These houses have a refreshingly modern façades with blank expanses of wall, and windows tucked in on the side of bump-outs on the second floor. Perhaps these designs were too modern for the buying public - as only a handful of the two-story plans were built with the blank 2nd floor façade - most have a front window on the bump-out. The 3-storey units were all built as shown in this image.
As built - with the windows on the 2-storey units. Notice the naturally-inspired colour scheme. The floor plans are below.

Another winner of a Canadian Housing Design Council Award. One of the key features of all houses in Beaverbrook is the use of natural materials and a community layout that ties in with the natural surrounding. 

The Salter Square development has some unique back-to-back townhouse designs, called 'patio homes'. For some reason builders do not like to use the term 'back-to-back townhouse'. Even today, Mattamy Homes calls them 'village homes'. Either way, they are an excellent way to increase density and offer houses at a more affordable price.

The importance of using natural materials in Beaverbrook is apparent in the Salter Square complex. While Campeau built its Court Homes in various neighbourhoods across the city, this is the only one where they used cedar shingles on the side walls of the houses. That said, it does not appear that all of the houses had cedar shingle side walls - others have wood siding. I wonder if these were left natural when they were first built? 

The importance of colour, texture and the use of various materials in Beaverbrook continues with the 'terrace homes' on Penfield Drive. While they all have the same floor plan, there is variety in the houses because of the different materials used - as in the image below. Some units have a detached garage in front of the house, again adding a sense of variety.

The final designs here are for the Bethune Condominium townhouse clusters in Beaverbrook.

Again, colour, texture, and various materials - all in earth tones - are characteristics of this complex.

One of the most unique aspects of the design of the 4 bedroom unit (plan above) is the master bedroom walk-in-closet that protrudes out over the garage. 


  1. These are great homes! Love the modern elements and the rustic feel to them . I'm interested in homes with cedar shingles so these are great examples of beautiful cedar roofs.

  2. I lived at 13 Tiffany Cres. in Kanata in the 70`s. That was the first street started in 1964. I still have the floor plans and price list for 1968.

    1. Wow! Would you be able to scan them so I can share on the blog? I can also borrow them and scan them myself.


  3. Very sad how the City of Ottawa is not preserving the rare design qualities of Beaverbrook.
    Changing the meandering footpaths in Sandwell Green into three metre wide asphalt runways (easily wide enough for a city monster sized snow moving machine) has been disastrous to the community use of this well loved park. From its prior glory as a naturalistic wooded habitat where people sat to picnic and fly kites, it has been devolved into something resembling oversized hard surface go-kart tracks.
    A design tragedy by the City of Ottawa that hurts all the residents of Beaverbrook and an attacking insult to supporters of midcentury design.