ISSUE 8  |  Winter Break

Inside the Box: Reinventing the Farmhouse, Canada Style

February 25, 2014 6:00 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

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Architects Jordan Allen and Ryan Trefz of Canadian firm bioi designed a deceptively simple 750-square-foot modern farmhouse in Alberta, Canada, to replace a house that could no longer meet the daily needs of a working farm. To minimize costs and environmental impact, the architects embraced the traditional form of the gabled-roof farmhouse and created a truly simple and efficient structure in a modern, all-black shell. 

Inside, however, tradition no longer applies. Rather than apportion valuable square footage for each household requirement, the architects designed a single large box to house them all: the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, clothes storage, and mechanical systems all reside inside a birch cube. And the rest of the house? It feels expansive and open to possibility.

Photographs by Alison Andersen. 

Above: One end of the birch wood headquarters contains the kitchen.

Above: Clothing storage is tucked into the opposite end. The architects intended for the owners to assign discrete functions to the box at will.

Above: The rest of the interior is defined by lofty beamed ceilings and a polished concrete floor with radiant heating. Windows and skylights take advantage of the southern exposure, providing both heat and light to the home.

Above: A large deck on one end of the house is a platform for work; it stands next to a refurbished log cabin used as insulated storage. 

Above: A smaller deck at the other end of the farmhouse is for relaxing and taking in meadow views.

Above: The house’s outermost shell is made of a humble black corrugated steel wrapped over a thick layer of insulation. The steel covers the length of the structure.

Above: Cedar façades at either end define the entryways. The house sits off the ground on screw piles—a precaution on land with a very high water table.

Above: A utilitarian material like black corrugated steel is a nod to the rural location and purpose of the structure; it’s also a modern and dramatic-looking choice.

Above: The house’s cedar façades provide a warm contrast to the corrugated steel shell.

If you like the look of this farmhouse, browse our Steal This Look: An Economical Scandinavian Ski Cabin and A Minimalist Ski Resort in Sweden.