Clayton House, an Edwardian-era grande dame located in Vancouver’s tony Shaughnessy district, had seen better days.
Built in 1910 and partially renovated in the 1980s, Clayton House was overdue for an update. When its new owners viewed Wolfe House, a much lauded from-the-ground-up home that seamlessly integrated a modern aesthetic within the same traditional neighbourhood, they sought out that property’s designers.
Enter Measured Architecture.
The studio was asked to mastermind a multi-phase renovation to retain the home’s meritorious historical value while introducing courageous modern elements and incorporating major landscaping updates. With the guidance of the First Shaughnessy Advisory Design Panel and a list of “no-go” areas that the clients didn’t wish to be changed, we set out to marry the past with the present and future.
Subscribing to a curatorial approach rather than simply grafting on changes, Measured first determined what non-meritorious aspects of the initial build as well as updates from the ‘80s reno could be discarded.
This was an exceptional project. We were able to protect the formal facades of the house while introducing modern living components through the building, off the back of the building, and through into the garden space.”
After the initial renovation in 2016, Measured was called upon to execute additional projects in the main house. The home now has a wine cellar clad in Venetian plaster and fitted with an extensive dowel system. In collaboration with celebrated local artisan shop Cloth Studio, Measured also designed a multi-faceted, multi-level curtain system that was of primary importance to the family. The mix of heavy wool felt and sheer linen panels provide acoustic softening, privacy and flexibility for room separation on all four floors of the home. A side benefit of the curtain system is heat abatement, allowing for reduced home heating costs.
Other green initiatives — in addition to the indigenous plantings, storm tank system and solar panels used outdoors — include reinsulating the building envelope and walls, installing high-efficiency windows, and recoating all radiators before reinstalling them in more efficient locations and connecting them to a new, state-of-the-art boiler.
The home is a standard foursquare; that is, four rooms flank a central staircase, providing views from the front to the back of the structure. Allowing the front façade and pyramidal roofline to remain firmly in their historical milieu, Measured chose substantial contemporary interventions for the rear of the home. An interior wall was torn down in favour of an open atrium that spans all four levels of the house and features an uninterrupted racing stripe of glass that unifies the rear façade and becomes an illuminated lantern wall at night. In the daytime, the feature floods the house with light and allows for views from the front door right out to the back yard, past a contemporary four-storey steel staircase. An enclosed glass cupola on the top floor is reminiscent of the widow’s walks popular in the heyday of Edwardian homes.
Praised as a project that did all the right things to preserve an existing heritage home while moving it into the future, Clayton House — now known as Shaughnessy House — has become a benchmark project in the City of Vancouver, winning an Architectural Institute of BC (AIBC) Special Jury Award for Heritage Retention and Modernization.