Take a tour of architect Susan Fitzgerald’s new live/work space in Canada

Photo of a residential road early evening
Architect Susan Fitzgerald's new base includes her family home, her and her partner's studios and a rental live/work space.
(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

This exciting new live/work project on Kings Street in Canada's Halifax is as self-built as they get. Created by local architect Susan Fitzgerald (opens in new tab) and her builder partner Brainard Fitzgerald, the project was conceived and built by the family team and neatly encompasses more than one uses under one roof. It comprises the Fitzgeralds' own home, a workspace for their architecture and contractor studios (with equipment storage on site), as well as a separate two-storey rental live/work studio.

The program is spread across three clusters, each with their own entrance, all within a 25ft x 100ft plot. The complex stands higher at the plot's two narrow ends, and gets lower towards the middle, breaking down the overall volume into smaller parts, in keeping with the area's diverse urban fabric. The tallest volume contains the owners' workspaces and home, extending into the garden at the back and reaching out to the lower, rental volume across the site's other end. The internal arrangement is flexible, so the couple's live and work areas can contract or expand into one another, depending on their changing needs. 

CAD drawing of a house

(Image credit: press)

Take an interactive tour of Kings Street House

Landscaped terraces across the complex were created to support the cultivation of vegetables and flowers. The exterior's key materials, board-form concrete and corrugated metal, were chosen to complement the neighbourhood's existing material palette - they were also a clever financial choice, working within the budget's limits. More constraints were applied by the area's building code regulation, which dictated minimal glazing on the property's side elevations, but the architects responded by playing with heights and generous openings on the front and back of the complex instead.

The interior design was equally inventive. The children's bedrooms are playful and compact, designed with sliding doors, and placed side by side, as if in a sleeper train. A central courtyard doubles as a parking space, but also becomes as children's play area, outdoor workspace, and flower garden, explain the architects.

Set within a dynamic and eclectic neighbourhood in the city's north - a part of town that includes the city crematorium, the Centre for Islamic Development Mosque, a café, a print shop and a legal marijuana grow operation - this new house and workspace will be a striking addition to the local community's richness and diversity.

Outside exterior door of a building

Two separate entrances at the front lead to Fitzgerald's home and studio, respectively.

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Inside the house looking through large glass windows onto the courtyard

The complex features two higher volumes at the plot's two narrow ends, but the centre is lower and includes a courtyard. 

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Ariel view of the building

The building's design and material palette were informed by the urban fabric around it.

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Walkway connection the house and the studio together

The volume containing the architect's house and studio spreads across three floors, with the studio occupying the ground level. 

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Exterior of the house at night

Plenty of outdoors space is spread across the complex, including a ground floor courtyard and three rooftop terraces...

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

garden with vegetable patch

...two of which are planted for the owners to cultivate flowers and vegetables. 

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Exterior picture of the house showing the central courtyard

The central courtyard doubles as parking space when needed. 

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Photo of the outside of the building, with large floor to ceiling windows

Since the architect couldn't open many windows to the building's sides, due to planning regulations, the narrow ends are fully glazed to bring plenty of light in. 

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

A long glass corridor attaching the two buildings

A long and light-filled corridor links the two taller volumes

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Exterior view of the building

The complex was created by the architect together with her partner, Brainard Fitzerland, who is a builder. 

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Kitchen with a wood dinning table

The interior is understated, featuring polished concrete floors and light-coloured timber.

(Image credit: Mike Dembeck)

Study with a large wood table

The material language remains consistent across both the residential areas and the workspaces.

(Image credit: Greg Richardson)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).