Williams Studio / gh3

© Larry Williams

Architects: gh3
Location: Lakefield, Ontario,
Principal in Charge: Pat Hanson
Project Team: Deni Papetti, Walter Bettio, Diana Gerrard, Raymond Chow
Structural: Blackwell Bowick
Mechanical: Patrick Lam
Construction manager: Jim Thompson
Project Area: 167 sqm
Construction Year: 2007
Photographs: Larry Williams

A photographer’s studio over a boathouse on Stony Lake is a re-imagination of the archetypal glass house in a landscape in the Canadian Shield. A continuation of thinking about this architectural ambition, the central concept of the house is reconceived through a contemporary lens of sustainability, program, site and amenity. The compelling qualities of simple, open spaces; interior and exterior unity and material clarity are transformed to enhance the environmental and programmatic performance of the building, creating architecture of both iconic resonance and innovative context–driven design.

ground floor plan

The program envisions a building as north–facing window: a photographer’s live/work studio and film location that is continuously bathed in diffuse and undiminished natural light. The transparent facade—a curtain wall glazed in low-iron glass—becomes the essential element in a photographic apparatus to produce images unobtainable in a conventional studio. The availability and fidelity of north–facing light in the double-height space provide the photographer with unparalleled natural illumination, while the clarity of the glazing transforms the site and surrounding vistas into a sublime, ever–changing backdrop.

© Larry Williams

The compact glass form sits at the water’s edge on a granite plinth whose matte black facade dematerializes to suspend the building, lantern-like, on the site. The granite’s thermal mass exploits the abundant solar input, eliminating the need for active systems on winter days, while the lakefront site allows the use of a deep-water exchange to heat and cool the building year–round through radiant slabs and recessed perimeter louvers at the floor and ceiling. Sliding panes in the glass skin—three metres wide at the ground floor, and one and a half metres wide on the mezzanine floor—allow the facade to become completely porous for natural ventilation, while an individually automated blind system, white roof, and deciduous hedgerow guard against excessive solar gain. The continuous blind system additionally serves as a second aesthetic skin, transforming the interior into an enclosed, intimate space, and the exterior into a gently reflective mirror of the surroundings.

© Larry Williams

Entry into the site is facilitated through a minimalist landscape that deploys endogenous materials while leaving the greatest portion of the site in its evocative, glacier-scoured state. A simple granite plinth serves as threshold for the south-facing entrance, where solid program functions and vertical circulation are arranged in a narrow, efficient volume. From the outset, the goal was to accommodate the client’s needs within a small footprint. Domestic functions are integrated into a furniture-like mezzanine assembly suspended above the main space, where bedroom, bathroom and closet are coextensive, and sliding fritted glass allows the whole to be concealed from the rest of the space. Throughout the upper and lower levels, interior partitions are clad with seamless white lacquered panels whose reflective qualities diffuse light into every part of the interior and create complex layered views through the space.

section

Set to be built in the spring of 2010, a lightweight aluminium curvilinear structure guarded by low-iron glass will be constructed at level with the house. This freestanding structure will serve as an outdoor living platform.

Cite: "Williams Studio / gh3" 27 Jan 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=47504>
  • George

    It’s lovely of course, but oh my god think of the gas bills!

  • mima

    This is a great project. It scores with its smart and simple design. I’d love to use it. Well done!
    From an ecological point of view? Well, that might not be so convincing; too hot in summer, too cold in winter!?!?!?
    Would be nice to hear what the MEP engineers strategy was…

  • rick

    looks good!

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  • sullka

    Love it!, it’s like a 21st century Phillip Johnson, this cabin won’t age ever.

    I just don’t personally like the WC in the middle of the room, and the theater like lighting rig they used for the living area.

  • Jake

    Ummm what’s with the horse? But I like all the glass…

    • http://www.facebook.com/Varaz.K Vam

      Do U really think iTs Real ? its not a real horse i think :D

  • Chas

    This isn’t my taste but I can certainly appreciate the simple elegance of this design.
    what amazing views. well done

  • matt

    I like it overall but I can’t help but feel that there’s an overuse of white. Sure it will catch the light well, but white needs a complement in order to stir the soul.

  • Kit

    What stands out the most in these photos is what’s happening outside. To me that’s why this project is so successful. It’s a place that emphasizes the amazing setting that it’s in. I love the contrast between the stark gray-scale interior and the natural setting outside.

  • Shopmaster

    Since it is noted as a photographer’s live/work studio, don’t you think all of the white is for the photographer’s use and “and the theater like lighting rig they used for the living area” as well?
    Part of the program, no?
    From the outset, the goal was to accommodate the client’s needs within a small footprint.

    • sullka

      You’re right Shopmaster, I stand corrected.

      • http://www.webdrifters.com/light Alain Couture

        I was the Lighting Consultant/Designer on that project. As pointed out, this is a mixed usage space. The statement “and the theater like lighting rig they used for the living area” is far from being accurate.

        The main room lighting configuration was designed for allowing the maximum possible settings of the various mobile elements in the rooms. This flexibility was achieved by multiple recessed segments of 3 circuit tracks for a total of 30 x 2.4 kw dimmable and independently controlled virtual channels. In addition, 24 x 500kg rigging points are spaced symmetrically to alloy various set-ups. All luminaires are of architectural grade and specified within the standard catalogue of Sistemalux and iGuzzini.

  • One

    How wonderful. I think the windows are little to complex for the site, but that is just a detail, and perhaps something to with my personal idea. The building sit very well on the location and the bold box works fantastic. Small ness is also fantastic. Happy NOT to see Mega Villa with Ten car part here… Congraturation…

  • FG

    I love it, and I see that Wilbur has gone modern unless that’s his and Mr. Ed’s descendant there.

  • FG

    PS it looks like they’ve solved the heating and cooling dilemma with radiant from ground source.

  • Mr Doug

    “The compelling qualities of simple, open spaces; interior and exterior unity and material clarity are transformed to enhance the environmental and programmatic performance of the building, creating architecture of both iconic resonance and innovative context–driven design.”

    Whew. One of the beautiful payoffs of the computer age is the absence of uncorked White-Out bottles lying about ones desk. The fumes… the fumes.

    Lovely building.

  • jwc3

    As a professional photographer and a modernist, this looks like perfection to me.

  • http://twitter.com/fineproperties/status/8319929485 Nick Downes

    RT @archdaily: Williams Studio / gh3 http://bit.ly/9ISTPu

  • Ralph Kent

    No strong feelings, it seems well executed for a box. What I do have an issue with with places like Farnsworth and Johnson House and this is just if much thought goes into how these places feel at night? There’s something unnerving about being in a remote location, lit up like a Christmas tree in a glazed box – you cannot see anything because of the internal reflection and contrast. Maybe I’ve just watched too many axe-murder movies – but as someone who lives in the mountains myself, I would much rather something with some solidity to it to encompass me. What was it Caminada said – something like: City people love to look out through vast expanses of glass on the countryside, people who live in the countryside long for a feeling of protection from the ferocity of nature?

  • aussireg

    I just love this project, many comments reflect my sentiment as to context and views,
    but more importantly, it bucks the very provincial attitudes in Canada of what a “cottage” in our splendid Canadian shield should be. There is often a hostility towards modernism in these rural settings.
    Bravo for not caving in to probable local outrage for not doing a gabled “Log House” but something that celebrates and embraces this incredible landscape .

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  • http://vitsee.wordpress.com/ vitsee

    absolutely stunning!

  • Jason

    Beautiful project. Seems like it would be difficult to keep the space at a comfortable temperature, however. Of course, this might be explained in the text – I admit, I was distracted by the pretty pictures…

    The idea of a toilet in the middle of this open room is pretty weird too. Why not put the swap the toilet and shower locations? An showering out in the open with all these beautiful views of nature is much more appealing than… um.. using the toilet there… and the mirror directly across from the toilet? Again.. kinda weird.

    All in all, beautiful project, though.

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  • http://twitter.com/galoera/status/8384472408 sylvia zygalo

    Williams Studio by gh3 | http://bit.ly/asc3ha

  • http://twitter.com/galoera/status/8384472408 sylvia zygalo

    Williams Studio by gh3 | http://bit.ly/asc3ha

  • http://eric-lane.com eric

    A dream project. Simply amazing details. I’m curious too about MEP for this project but nonetheless it succeeds as strong element within its landscape.

  • http://twitter.com/suburbanrambler/status/8387896303 suburbanrambler
  • mark

    Can anyone tell me what direction is the building facing? which way is north?

  • http://twitter.com/nicholaspatten/status/8533359700 Nicholas Patten

    I'd Live Here: Williams Studio. http://bit.ly/dgOr59

  • http://twitter.com/mrstephenbeck/status/8758624371 Stephen Beck

    Pretty sure i could comfortably live in this house: http://bit.ly/9cNGOr / http://bit.ly/9s4MPw

  • http://twitter.com/rg_urbanarch/status/12419805172 Raymond G Girard

    It might be Canada – but imagine the curtains this (admittedly gorgeous) joint is going to need… http://bit.ly/asc3ha