Calgary-based architectural graduates Jordan Allen and Raya Trefz are all about skirting convention.
You don’t have to look further than the non-word Bioi (pronounced “by-oh-eye”)—the name of Jordan Allen and Raya Trefz’s Calgary-based design-and-build studio—for proof that the architectural-graduate duo is all about skirting convention. “When we were setting up our office, we didn’t want to put our names on it,” explains Allen, referring to the eponymous route that many designers take when dubbing their practices. “That method just doesn’t account for the collaborative team involved in our work.”
That cooperative, egoless nature has been a driving force of Bioi since its launch in 2011. The firm begins every residential project by contextualizing the client’s lifestyle—their job, family, hobbies and habits—resulting in poetic, “progressively designed” custom homes that simplify the day-to-day while challenging the architectural norms typically seen in Calgary. A contemporary concrete construction in Elbow River Valley—its facade marked by a striking, two-storey window—serves as a sturdy anchor for a travel-happy family; a compact steel-and-cedar-clad homestead, with its multiple decks and external insulated storage unit, facilitates rural farm life. Elsewhere, a sliver of an urban parcel is maximized with a cantilevered upper level that offers both ample living space and stunning views of the Bow River Valley.
For Bioi, respecting—and preserving—a home’s surrounding environment is important, too. The studio is a strong proponent of “being a good neighbour,” says Allen, which means retaining existing trees on plots whenever possible and employing materials, like brick and timber, that fit into (and make sense for) established ’hoods. “Our projects are very different from one another,” Allen notes, “and that’s simply a reflection of how different our clients are.”