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