When you design a house for architecture buffs, the design brief is naturally going to get high concept. But the team at Alloy Homes and Croma Design didn’t mind one bit when am active, urban family with two kids approached them with the request to “give us a functional work of art” in Calgary’s River’s Edge neighbourhood. (Other things on the wish list: make it modern, comfortable and bright; facilitate indoor/outdoor living; respect the natural rhythms of the site.)

Today, that “work of art” brings a uniquely modernist vibe to the neighbourhood, but at the same time, doesn’t disrupt the natural beauty. Wrapped in low-maintenance natural materials that will weather beautifully over time: at one with its surroundings and a beautiful lesson in artful architecture. Check and check. 

Whatever’s on your personal dream home wish list, here are some more design takeaways from this unique (and highly enviable) home.

Design Lessons From a Modernist Calgary Dream Home

Lesson 1: Create visual connections between the house and the site by using high-performance glass and opening walls. 

With the ample windows and sliding doors that connect indoors with outdoors, nature is everywhere you look.

Lesson 2: Let the sun guide you.

For this project, Alloy Homes strategically placed windows, terraces and sitting areas around the home so that there’s always a sunny spot to be found, no matter the time of day.

Lesson 3: Keep it low-maintenance. 

The natural materials cladding the exterior of the home are designed to weather gently and enhance in character over time. 

Lesson 4: Prepare for your location’s unique challenges.

The riverside location means that flooding is always a possibility€”so Alloy thought ahead and planned for the worst. No mechanical equipment was installed in the basement, and the main floor is raised above the flood line. Plus, a prefab foundation wall system makes it a snap to clean-up and repair in case of emergency (with no hidden spaces for silt to build up).

Lesson 5: Let the view steal the spotlight. 

It’s hard to compete with the lush greenery in the summer, and the sparkling Prairie snowfalls in the winter, so why bother? With so much nature visible in every room, the designers at Croma kept the interior palette muted in whites, greys and creams.