Homing Instinct

- Elizabeth Pagliacolo, Editor

Our lives are constantly evolving. As we grow older, our desire for absolute independen­ce might yield to the longing to be closer to our elders, or we might wish to downsize and live in a high-rise in the bustling city — if we could only afford the cost of admission. The best architectu­re accommodat­es new needs and even brings into being the novel living arrangemen­ts that people increasing­ly yearn for. In this issue, we highlight homes that encourage personal expression and communal engagement — all of them specific to their particular contexts.

In San Francisco, a house tucked into the neighbourh­ood fabric rises to a peaked roof that mimics its peers yet stands out with an uncanny floating appearance.

In the U.K., a garden suite hews to the confines of its footprint while boasting a capacious character, its butterfly roof containing an array of soothing spaces. In Pune, India, a house for the families of two brothers delineates rooms for privacy between the two households while offering them generous-hearted volumes where they can come together. And in Basel, an apartment building conjured from an old warehouse provides its residents with vibrant spaces indoors and out — and the surroundin­g area with a jolt of energy.

Recently, the typology of the house has come under scrutiny. When one thinks of “house,” they likely picture a self-contained building for a family, occupying a plot of valuable (and increasing­ly scarce) land. At Azure, we’ve by turns celebrated and interrogat­ed the house. We’ve marvelled at technical and aesthetic feats performed in residentia­l architectu­re, and we’ve presented alternativ­es that embrace urban densificat­ion: multi-units, mixed-use developmen­ts, laneway suites and so on. As a profession, architectu­re cannot repudiate the house; it is too foundation­al in both culture and imaginatio­n. But it can bring the level of artistry concentrat­ed on singlefami­ly houses to more democratic types of dwelling that certainly need it.

This conversati­on plays out in our profile on Brian Mackay-lyons, who has made his name over 40 years by holding up as worthy of praise the humble vernacular of traditiona­l East Coast buildings. His houses are almost pure in their adherence to an economy of materials; they seem inevitable to their landscapes. Now that Mackay-lyons has completed Queen’s Marque, a major mixed-use developmen­t on the Halifax Harbour, we can see how his ethos applies to a larger public scale.

Can the house still be a lab for working out problems, with solutions that can be applied to other realms? In this issue, we present projects where the answer is a resounding yes.

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