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Showing posts from September, 2018

Passages from the Manifesto: Unbuttoning the Suburban House

This is the first in a series of posts from the manifesto I am working on for housing in the National Capital Region. Suggested accompanying music while reading: Intro by The XX.


The term unbuttoning has more than one meaning. There is the literal one, like unbuttoning clothing. But, there is also the related idea of releasing constraints and restrictions from something. Similar to unbuttoning your top pant button after eating too much, the idea of unbuttoning the suburban house releases constraints allowing for a more relaxed and natural house design.

In many parts of North America, the dream of a suburban living is one that is centred on a fully detached house. This idea has impacted the design of houses for decades, and in recent times has seen large detached houses on very narrow plots of land. The resultant designs are typically long and narrow to fit within the constraints of the lot width. For example, a detached house on a 30-foot wide lot is subject to side yard setbacks (unusa…

Hab-Com - Cathcart Mews

At the end of the 1970s and in to the early 1980s there was a company called Hab-Com that is responsible for some of the city's most interesting housing projects. One of their goals was to create dwellings that felt like single family housing, but a medium densities. Two of their major developments are Cathcart Mews in Lower Town and Springfield Mews in Lindenlea. The later project will be featured in a subsequent post.  Below is everything I have for Cathcart Mews:








The "Mews" houses (plans A and B) are located on an enchanting and private laneway tucked in off Cathcart Street.









These stacked townhouse plans are quite unique with three interlocking plans forming a module that is repeated. Each has a ground level entry. The lower unit has 3 bedrooms, a basement and a yard. The two upper units were designed with an open concept loft bedroom, but later options were added to include an enclosed bedroom and even a 2 bedroom layout.