Text description provided by the architects. A simple, economical, and small (1,440 sq.ft.) one bedroom retirement home in the country for two city dwellers, Gary, and Carol Ridge, reflects the aspirations of out of the box thinkers who wanted something decidedly different in a retirement home. Gary is a retired construction superintendent, so he literally built most of it by hand, right down to the cabinets, with some locally hired helpers. Carol is a retired administrator from the McMaster University Family Health Department, and we previously worked with her on a clinic design. They purchased a wooded lot overlooking the Consecon Canal along the Loyalist Parkway in the northwest corner of popular Prince Edward County.
There is one bedroom, one bath and two dens for their many busy hobbies (he’s into stamps, history, and wine, while she’s into quilting, reading, etc.). A central living/dining/kitchen space is the heart of the house, with large windows to both the north and south for generous light and views of the canal in front and woods behind. The house is a simple, economical wood frame box, with sloping faces to make the forms dynamic.
The simple and economical black corrugated metal cladding on the house, juxtaposed against the plain galvanized corrugated cladding for the studio tower. The black siding allows the house to fade back into the woods as moose and bear do, instead of being too prominent. Accent metal trims add depth and are painted with bright, high gloss automotive paint in homage to the Owners’ obsession with 1970s muscle cars. The Ridges actually went out and bought an orange car to match the house!
The house is raised and floats on piers over the lower part of the site that floods each spring, allowing for water views of the canal out front. There is a bridge walkway to the front door and much of the front lawn is a lavender garden. A separate garage/workshop (lime green accents) and a separate ‘Haven’ outdoor porch/living room (purple accents) are attached to a two-story shared Studio space (raw galvalume) for their art projects.
The buildings are grouped to create a courtyard, inspired by traditional European farms, in order to create a sense of place on the site. The interiors are simple, clean and crisply detailed. A 3-dimensional wood accent wall in the living room provides hidden storage for electronics and media. The cantilevered island mimics the exterior house concept. Simple, inexpensive materials and a compact box, all brought to life by thoughtful design strategies to subvert the norm, make this not your typical retirement dwelling.