Effect Homes is proud of our status as leaders in sustainable, quality construction and modern home design, and we value the relationships we create with our clients. But sometimes, we are lucky enough to work on projects that add a different kind of excitement; a connection to Edmonton’s history and a way to be a part of its evolution. Our new renovation, the Love Residence, is a great example of such a project.
The Love Residence was designed by Don Bittorf and James Wensley, and was completed in 1969. Bittorf and Wensley are two of Edmonton’s most celebrated Architects, and their influence is seen throughout the city. Well known works include the Edmonton Art Gallery, the Edmonton Convention Center, Grant Macewan West Campus, and the Mayfair (now Hawrelak) Park Pavilions. Their residential work is revered, and includes some of Edmonton’s most famous homes such as 11 Wolf Willow Point, the Poole Residence, and many acreage homes throughout the forests of Parkland County.
Adjusting to changing times
It can often be challenging for a building to remain relevant over its lifespan as standards of efficiency and aesthetics change. The Edmonton Art Gallery by Bittorf and Wensley is a good example. It was once an important progression in Edmonton architecture, but the brutalist and simple concrete form eventually became hard to distinguish among the abundance of precast concrete in the downtown core. Properly regulating interior climate is a large problem for an art gallery full of delicate works. The building’s design and construction was simply not appropriate for Edmonton’s climate. Parts of it remain in the new Art Gallery of Alberta, but you would be hard pressed to find them in the new sweeping form.
Energy efficient improvements
Some Bittorf and Wensley projects have had better outcomes as a result of extensive renovations to modernize standards of sustainability. The Wensley-designed Edmonton Conference center has undergone a recent renovation and now boasts the largest building integrated photovoltaic array in Canada. The original building’s iconic atrium, once a large and poorly insulated glass canopy that steps down the riverbank, is now covered with solar glass panels that offset 150,000 kg of CO emissions per year.
The Poole Residence – modern home renovation
Effect Homes is proud to be a part of the history and transformation of Bittorf and Wensley’s Poole Residence, a west coast modern style home and one of the best known residences in Edmonton. Our 2017 renovation showed a commitment to the preservation of architectural heritage, while also prioritizing sustainable advances that will allow the house to be used for generations to come.
The house’s original finishes included rare California cedar wall cladding, an integral part of the character of the house that could not easily be removed or replaced. This prevented access to the building envelope’s insulation and air barrier details, so we focused on mechanical systems and window penetrations.
A new geothermal system now provides heat to the house, and a solar hot water heating system provides heat to the indoor pool. New triple pane windows replaced the exterior glazing, improving the comfort and efficiency of the home. New finishes were added to the interior, including cabinets, counters, bathrooms, and a new metal staircase, but the house’s original style is largely maintained.
The Love Residence – modern home renovation
Our new Love Residence Renovation is another opportunity to be a part of the sustainable preservation of Edmonton’s history. The house is an excellent example of Prairie Style, with long, low rooflines, brick details, and interior to exterior connections. The floor plan is ‘married to the ground’, following the curvature of its site on 2.3 acres of the North Saskatchewan riverbank. Features include a limestone fireplace, indoor pool, and a living room built into the hill below the house. It also has an amazing location; many Bittorf Wensley homes are well hidden on flat, treed sites, but the Love Residence looks over an open site to spectacular views of the river valley.
The Love Residence’s original style is largely maintained on the exterior, but the interior is a different story. Its history includes many renovations, and any of the architect’s original design is difficult to see beyond the floor plan. This presents an opportunity for an efficiency upgrade, as well as a complete interior design revision. Like many houses of the era, not much effort was put into the energy performance of the building.
Modern home upgrades
The air tightness of the building is over twice as porous as modern code requires, and the house currently requires 7 furnaces to keep up with heat losses from its building envelope. With access to the exterior envelope, our renovation will be much more extensive than the Poole Renovation, and we have the ability to update the whole house’s efficiency system.
Our goals for the project include the promotion of historical resources, influencing new standards in sustainable construction and design, and a successful partnership with the client. We are very excited to continue our work, and look forward to sharing the finished product.