Being the new kid on a traditional block in Kitchener

Being the new kid on a traditional block in Kitchener

By Georgie Binks | Special to the Star | Tue., Jan. 11, 2022 | 3 min. read

When Christopher Simmonds took on a contemporary construction project in a traditional Kitchener, Ont., neighbourhood, he got more than he bargained for from local homeowners.

“They thought the building of a modern house was going to be an affront to the neighbourhood,” said the Ottawa architect and principal of Simmonds Architecture.

So, in the spirit of being a good neighbour, Simmonds amended his initial design to get the go-ahead from both the city and the community for the residence nicknamed Kitchener Infill.

His first alteration was to give the home a sloped roof, rather than a flat version with a rooftop terrace. Next, he chose Owen Sound ledge rock and thermally modified ash, materials that made the house blend with the local community. “The materials do a really good job of creating this ambiguity of the age of the house,” said Simmonds.

The three-storey home was also designed with privacy in mind — its main entrance is situated at the end of a covered, side walkway.

With 2,770 square feet of living space, Kitchener Infill’s first floor includes the dining and living rooms, kitchen, pantry and bar. The second floor has a bedroom, bathroom hot tub and bar. And the master retreat, with ensuite, are on the top floor.

Building materials also include white oak and walnut cabinetry. Sustainable features include triple-glazed windows, high insulation, radiant heating. Completed in 2019, Kitchener Infill took two years to design and build Architect Christopher Simmonds answers a few questions about Kitchener Infill:

Were you surprised by the challenge of building this type of home in an older neighbourhood?

The main challenge was convincing the neighbourhood that it should be allowed. It’s a very traditional neighbourhood and the houses are all from 1920s to ’50s. We went two rounds of (approvals for) variances on this project.

The client imagined a flat-roof house with a roof terrace and I said, “No. It’s a very traditional neighbourhood and everything has sloped roofs.”

What I wanted to build was a 2-1/2-storey house with a pitched roof. I want to set this up with intensely landscaped living spaces at ground level.”

How do the neighbours like it now?

I think they have softened. I think some neighbours still don’t like it.

What is the purpose of the cantilevered roof?

The roof canopy leads you from the walkway, along the side of the house, to the door orchestrating your arrival at the house. It also creates a separation between the upper wood-clad elements and the lower stone base. It would be a very tall, skinny house without the insertion of that level.

There’s a wall of windows by the staircase. How do you still achieve privacy?

The ground floor has a six-foot-high fence outside, blocking the view of people looking in from the sidewalk. There are also exterior louvres outside; when you’re inside, these look horizontally out but you can’t see down. That’s our main privacy element.

The fabulous thing about the window wall is that brings so much light in. It’s quite an experience going up those stairs.

What design accommodations were made for the extra-large windows?

The track you are putting these windows on has to be completely level — it cannot deflect at all. You need very solid concrete foundations underneath it. The sliding door had to have a lift to put it in place.

Did you use fritted (decorative printed) glass on this project?

We didn’t use it here. There’s foliage and fences — the house is not sitting in the middle of a field.

Work with Colleen Whitney

At Whitney Residential we offer the highest level of expertise and service with integrity.

We are one of the leading real estate teams in Kitchener-Waterloo. Colleen Whitney has sold over 150 Million dollars in residential real estate. We have the market insights and superior negotiating skills to get the best results for our clients.

Contact Us
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: API requests are being delayed. New posts will not be retrieved for at least 5 minutes.