Take Note: Studio AC
A young firm launched by KPMB Architects alumni Jennifer Kudlats and Andrew Hill, Toronto-based Studio AC’s work is marked by a mandate to maintain a strong sense of architecture even in interior-oriented projects. Their work is also, for all its architectural rigour, designed to be lived in and enjoyed, and encompasses not just the “hard” parts of a project such as walls and floors, but the spaces and volumes they create. “It’s the hardest part of architecture to grasp,” observes Hill. “It’s about more than just the space; it’s the experience.”
The team uses architectural gestures to shape the experience of the space in both overt and subtle ways, such as a change of flooring from a hallway to a bedroom, arched openings that add a sense of arrival when passing through rooms, or the creation of invisible but fully present “walls” in an open space.
In the case of a renovation, the givens of a house may be retained or re-purposed in inventive ways. They are not necessarily directed by what existed before, but rather inspired to incorporate it into a new context. For example, in a Victorian semi in an older section of the city, a window left high and dry when the second floor was removed was left as-is, where it casts light down through the interior like a clerestory. When the same renovation uncovered a long-hidden fireplace chimney, the bricks were painstakingly restored and retained in place, like an artefact.
“We talk a lot about client, context, experience in our work,” says Kudlats. “But these are also spaces that are playful, enjoyable places to live.”
A dramatic renovation to a Victorian semi creates a bright and highly functional space in which the architecture adds personality as well as function. Despite its openness (vertical as well as horizontal), spaces like the kitchen are clearly distinct from the adjacent dining room, and operable interior windows allow for a novel, but efficient, method of communication between floors.
The owners of this corner loft wanted a sense of retreat from busy urban life. From the sheltered entry corridor, a change in the original orientation to highlight the leafy view on the quieter side of the space, to arched doorways that lead towards the inner sanctum of the bedroom, subtly shapes the experience of moving through the space.
Photography by: Andrew Snow Photography / Jeremie Warshafsky