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Image courtesy of PARTISANS


Nestled within the flank of a bucolic property in southwestern Ontario lies Fold House. On the approach from the driveway, a single hovering pavilion comes into focus; a fuller view of the two-story residence and pool house is only revealed as one rounds the corner. The shape-shifting structure, which marries undulating wood and steel with softly stacked cedar-clad volumes, inhabits the site’s gentle gradients to foster a restorative experience. [1]

Fold House is part of a new generation of Canadian architecture that isn’t just built on top of land— it’s designed to be a part of it. The country’s striking natural wonders play a huge role in every Canadian’s life and that fact is an increasingly integral part of the country’s leading architectural projects. In some cases, this is evident when sustainability is embedded into the design process, in others it is the fact that homes are built from resources that can only be found nearby. Still others use organic architecture to promote harmony between human habitation and the natural world. Either way, it is transforming people’s everyday homes into immersive living experiences that blend seamlessly with nature. 

The resultant bespoke house uses predominantly natural materials, including wood from local oak and cedar trees and natural stones from Ontario. It has a green roof and because it is nestled into the earth, it reduces energy usage. The designers also eschewed as many toxic materials as possible, including glues and resins. 

 The structure’s most arresting feature is the staircase cradled by pressure bent oak— a strategy commonly used for musical instruments but rarely in architecture. The wood is shrunk in compression, then hydrated, and then vacuum packed. It’s a process that renders a plank of wood so flexible you could tie it into a knot— or create a staircase that appears to oscillate as the user ascends.

To minimize environmental impact and follow the escarpment regulations in the area, a 3D scan was performed to fine-tune the structure’s positioning. a green roof further blurs the distinction between building and landscape. in order to maximize sunlight throughout the year and reduce solar gain in the summer months, the windows have been structured in a checkerboard pattern along the guest houses, while the pool room features south-facing glazed sliding doors with deep overhang. [3]


[1]      “Fold House.” Partisans. Accessed July 21, 2021. https://partisans.com/project/fold-house/.

[2]      “Canada’s Architects Blur the Boundaries of Home.” BBC News. BBC. Accessed July 21, 2021. http://www.bbc.com/storyworks/lexus-suv-summer-2021/blending-with-the-landscape?utm_source=BBC&utm_medium=BBC-Video-Ad&utm_campaign=FY22-Q2-SUV-High-Impact-Video.

[3]       “PARTISANS Sculpts ‘Fold House’ in Ontario to Embrace the Contours of Its Hillside Site.” designboom, January 22, 2021. https://www.designboom.com/architecture/partisans-fold-house-ontario-hillside-01-11-2021/.

Additional information:

Block, India. “Partisans Tops Rebuilt Pool House in Ontario with Undulating Timber Roof.” Dezeen, January 29, 2021. https://www.dezeen.com/2021/01/28/partisans-fold-house-pool-guest-architecture-canada/.

Deluce, Justine. “Into the Woods: How 4 Architects Are Reimagining the Modern Log Cabin.” Justine Deluce, November 30, -1. https://justinedeluce.com/into-the-woods-how-4-architects-are-reimagining-the-modern-log-cabin/.

Dreith, Ben. “Fold House by Partisans.” NUVO, April 6, 2021. https://nuvomagazine.com/design/home-of-the-week-fold-house-by-partisans.

Project Title: Fold House
Year: 2020

Place: Hamilton, Ontario

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