When managing editor Sarah Brown proposed the theme of the 2014 Interiors issue, I was once again amazed at the rich architectural landscape of this city. The city’s explosion of bold, yet thoughtful, residential design provided us the opportunity to curate a collection of houses that easily fit the riverside theme.
The theme quickly revealed a few trends. Many homeowners love the modern look but wanted a house that spoke to the surroundings. Enter post-and-beam construction, which allows for open-concept kitchens and works well with neutral decor palettes. I love how, from afar, the Manotick home of Sebastien Marineau looks like a cluster of rural outbuildings. Inside, it’s warm, welcoming, and a luxurious place to come home to. Marc Gingras and Natalie Sawaya took a different route: the topography of their undeveloped property meant their house could be built to ensure awe-inspiring views.
One thing remains constant in these water-inspired homes, and that is the interplay between outside and inside. A pool is set into the bedrock and features clear fencing to keep the eyes on the prize-winning forested backdrop. Extensive glazing lets homeowners appreciate their surroundings even in winter. Barn- board reclaims the landscape by countering the modern aspects of the house and tying it back to the landscape, in this way honouring the surroundings.
I would even venture to say that the feeling of river travel — the sometimes peaceful, at other times stimulating experience that reveals something new at every turn — is reflected in this issue. For example, we learned of the Cumberland home of Anda Bruinsma and Barry Turner after visiting the home of Gosse Bruinsma, Anda’s brother. Gosse and his partner, Michele Carini, lovingly restored a heritage home in New Edinburgh — on the banks of the Rideau River, no less — and thus bring a different style of architecture to this issue. Serendipitous, indeed.
I’ve often marvelled at the fact that, while Ottawa has many parks and pathways situated near water, relatively few public gathering spaces take advantage of river views, sunset reflections, and the embracing spiritedness that comes with socializing by the water. But institutions are starting to see the value in inspired public spaces — “Building a More Beautiful City” spotlights three recent projects. Perhaps it’s time city planners took a cue from residential architects. How I would love a space to chat fireside about a new project or be moved by the musings of a celebrated speaker while taking in waterfront views.