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December 2014 - Novell Design Build



Our Favourite Projects of 2014

  • By Tudor

A theme we were drawn to this year was one of contrast versus context. Our favourite projects have either embodied extreme sensitivity to their environment and intended use or have stood in stark contrast by embracing differing styles.  We want to wrap up 2014 with a look back at some of the projects that caught our eye in the past year.  Click on any photo to enlarge.


Sleuk Rith Institute – Cambodia

Zaha Hadid is no stranger to criticism and controversy.  While her work doesn’t always strike us as the most contextually sensitive, this proposal is a welcome departure from her iconic work.  The institute will house records and documents relating to the cruel regime of Pol Pot in the late 1970s.  Zaha Hadid Architects have moved away from the stern concrete that normally characterizes their work to a structure that’s built primarily from timber.  Read more here.



Her Majesty’s Pleasure – Canada

Eclectic interiors and decor were a huge trend in 2014 and will likely continue to remain so through 2015.  There’s a certain refined carelessness that’s key to pulling off such a style.  For an establishment that’s part cafe, beauty and hair salon, bar and shop, an eclectic look was all but demanded.  Toronto firm +tongtong proved they were equal to the task.  The interior combines art deco influences, rustic elements, bold brass accents and clean modern lines.  It’s chaotic and perfect.  Read more here.



Bombay Sapphire Distillery – United Kingdom

Thomas Heatherwick‘s revitalized headquarters for gin-maker Bombay Sapphire sits on a property with almost 300 years of history.  The focal points of this project are two glasshouses that create two different climates to grow plants necessary for gin-making.  Stainless steel framing allowed the glasshouses to take on curvy, sinuous forms that stand in contrast to the older buildings on the property.  Read more here.



Mont-Tremblant National Park Discovery Centre – Canada

Designed to be harmonious with nature and its surroundings, the Discovery Centre features a mirrored facade that reflects the wilderness around.  The use of timber in its construction also helps to reinforce its natural setting.  The building is also able to facilitate technologies such as passive ventilation and heating from solar gain.  Read more here. 



Seinäjoki City Library – Finland

The new library was designed to be added to a site of existing buildings dating back to 1965 and designed by Alvar Aalto.  The new building, designed by JKMM Architects, is modern and expressive and clad in copper panels that evoke leaves.  A subterranean tunnel connects the library to other buildings in the civic centre.  Read more here.



Hofsos Swimming Pool – Iceland

Yes, a swimming pool.  Iceland is well-known for its barren beauty and this pool’s site incorporates both mountain and ocean views.  It’s minimal approach gives swimmers the impression that they’re swimming to a neighbouring island across the channel.  Designed by BASALT Architects, the pool’s facilities are integrated directly into the landscape and feature an unfussy industrial aesthetic.  Read more here.



Hotel Fontevraud – France

Originally an abbey built in the 12th century, the resting place of King Richard the Lionheart has been reimagined as a modern hotel.  The hotel’s design references various aspects of the building’s former purpose such as furniture built from rough wood, tones of monks’ robes and wrought-iron lighting pieces.  Vaulted ceilings and original masonry provides striking contrast with the hotel’s modern amenities.  Read more here.



Abedian School of Architecture – Australia

The new building for Bond University’s architecture faculty was designed to feature informal learning spaces envisioned as caves.  CRAB Studio sought to create a facility that would support a variety of activities.  This translated into an interior of corners, alcoves and sheltered areas that could respond to the needs of the school’s students and staff.  Read more here.



Mont de Marsan Mediatheque – France

This library caught our eye for its dedication to creating a healthy environment for its patrons.  Extensive glazing allows ample sunlight to reach its interior.  An amoeba-like internal courtyard does double duty as an enormous light well.  Located in a military barracks, the building pays respect to surrounding buildings by literally reflecting its environment.  Read more here.



Pocinho Centre for High Performance Rowing – Portugal

Inserted into a tiered hillside, most of this facility is hidden underground.  The variations in structural elements hint at their intended uses, with some volumes projecting out from the ground, and others snaking across the hillside.  Its white form contrasts with earth tones and skylights allow sunlight to enter its underground spaces.  Read more here.




Case File: Fast Track Reno

  • By Tudor

“We always wanted to live smaller without compromising on quality.”

The Subject

A midcentury townhome with outdated appliances, cabinetry and finishes.


The Objective

To revitalize an old townhome in 60 days or less for a family of three, downsizing from a larger home in order to focus on travel and smaller living.  Our clients were looking a healthy environment free of pollutants, and an overall surface refresh without compromising on quality.  Bright, clean and simple aesthetic, with practical affordability considered.

The Scope of Work

Design consultation ran alongside the build throughout.  After asbestos abatement, we re-drywalled and levelled the floors that had been sagging and bouncing over years with new subfloor and levelling concrete.  New flooring was then installed to a brilliant finish throughout the entire townhome.   The electrical wiring was re-run throughout the townhouse, though all plumbing and mechanical components remained in the same position – with simply new fixtures replacing the previous.  New kitchen cabinets. countertops and backsplash went in within walls that were squared up for a crisp clean finish.   The bathrooms were refurbished completely with simple classic fixtures and finishes.  New interior doors and trims.  Lighting and hardware throughout the house turned over to a consistent finish.  The fireplace was modernized for increased efficiency and a modern look.  New paint throughout.


The Result

It feels like a brand new home, on time and on budget!   This project was a perfect fit for the efficiencies our Design Build services can provide.  We overlapped design selections and decisions with the construction start in order to fully integrate efforts, and provide an expedited delivery.  This approach works well when lump sum allowances and a contingency is in place in order to facilitate changes and adjustments along the way.


Before & Afters:

Browse through the evidence. Click on any of the Before and After shots to enlarge.









Like this renovation and want to see more?  Check out this home originally built in 1928, now refreshed with a modern and eclectic style.  Or this Shaughnessy landmark reimagined with a sense of opulence.

Get started on your renovation today!

 Contact us now for your free consultation.



Houzz Features the MADhouse

  • By Tudor
Our modern, minimalist, multi-adult dwelling gets another chance to shine in this piece written by Houzz. Click on the banner to read more!