House with four gables | Architect’s Review

Project description

Transforming a 140-year-old carriage house for the next century, architect Steven Fong reinvented the Southern Ontario Woodlawn Residence with contemporary styling and resilient materials using architectural grade RHEINZINK-GRANUM zinc. Now called the “Four Gable House,” the 1,205 square foot two-story home maximizes floor space within the narrow lot boundaries.

“This small structure is by necessity something of a bespoke garment. However, the owner luckily found that the many thoughtful storage and open loft-like spaces worked admirably to make it a very livable home,” said architect Steven Fong. “By imagining an urban pied-à-terre, our client wanted a restful retirement; a secluded place away from the city, but in the middle of it. Evocations of a darling wild cabin were also initially considered; and, just beyond the doorstep, an abundant entourage of privileged perennials. “

Built by Den Bosch + Finchley, Novak Cladding custom fabricated and installed 5,500 square feet, approximately 3 tons, of RHEINZINK-GRANUM material. Supplied by Agway Metals, the large flat tiles wrap the exterior walls, columns and the steeply pitched roof.

To give the residence its distinctive look, Fong specified RHEINZINK-GRANUM with a dark gray basalt matte finish. The metal roof and wall tiles were laid out in a horizontally oriented staggered pattern that resembles the earlier masonry base and wood siding. Beyond the modern interpretation of its vintage aesthetic, parts of the original frame and foundation have been preserved. The extensive renovation of the historic structure was to meet Heritage Conservation District guidelines, meet established zoning requirements, and maintain setbacks.

“The malleable skin of zinc allowed us to twist, turn and shape this volume, successfully navigating between the idiosyncratic prescriptive morphology of the zoning by-law and our interest in creating a readable architectural form,” Fong described.

He added that the physical presence of the dark gray basalt zinc RHEINZINK-GRANUM; solid stained wood, white pine; the frames in sapele mahogany; and the local limestone “transcends an abstraction to make an engaging experiential typology”.

“The House of Four Gables is one of the first projects in North America to feature our new RHEINZINK-GRANUM material,” said Richard Strickland, Regional Sales Manager for RHEINZINK America. “The basalt finish option provides an immediate dark gray matte look that pairs well with the project’s various exterior wood species, clear and frosted glass and other building materials.

For centuries, European homes and buildings have relied on zinc building materials. Founded in 1966 in Germany, RHEINZINK is one of the world’s leading producers of architectural grade zinc. RHEINZINK-CLASSIC Bright Zinc and RHEINZINK-prePATINA Blue-Gray and Graphite-Gray Zinc were among its first products introduced in North America in the early 1990s. Last year, it expanded the product offering to include RHEINZINK-GRANUM in basalt and skygrey.

“Over time, the dynamic qualities of the finish and the zinc alloy naturally patina down to a blue-gray tone. The unique and ever-changing coloration and character will continue to evolve over the decades, ”Strickland explained.

Fong added, “A neighbor expressed appreciation for the quiet presence of this house, which is discreetly located in the middle of the block. He noted how the light plays on the siding, casting different tones at different times of the day; it is compatible with the natural setting of trees and vegetation in the region. “

The residence was originally used as a car shed for James Avon Smith’s country estate in the Lake District. A professional architect, Smith not only owned the structures, but also designed them. According to the Heritage Conservation District study, “In the mid-1800s, Toronto’s wealthiest and most prominent families established country estates on the Hill; this elevated enclave was prized both for its view of the city and its healthier atmosphere.

Located in the Summerhill neighborhood, the old shed is now a one bedroom residence in the community of Saint Clair, Ontario. The city sits east of the St. Clair River, which serves as the international border between Ontario, Canada and Michigan. The river connects with Lake Huron to the north and Lake St. Clair to the south, where it empties into the Detroit River and eventually into Lake Erie.

Even with the windy and wintry conditions of the Great Lakes, RHEINZINK-GRANUM retains its self-healing, low maintenance and corrosion resistance performance with a potential lifespan of up to 100 years. Strickland explained, “This durable, weather-resistant and durable zinc material is ideal for resilient roofing, facade and wall cladding systems. At the end of its useful life on the roof or wall facade, it remains 100% recyclable.

“We wanted a non-combustible, low-maintenance coating that could easily conform to the shape of the massing,” Fong summarized. “With RHEINZINK panels, we were able to achieve these goals, while also benefiting from a material that patina and looks better and better over time.”


House of Four Gables – Woodlawn Residence, St. Clair, Ontario, Canada
• Architect: Steven Fong Architect; Toronto;
• Designer / builder: Den Bosch + Finchley; Toronto;
• Zinc roofing and cladding systems – installer and manufacturer: Novak Cladding Ltd .; Mississauga, Ontario;
• Zinc material – distributor: Agway Metals Inc .; Brampton, Ontario;
• Material zinc – manufacturer: RHEINZINK; Woburn, Massachusetts;
• Images “Before”: Steven Fong
• Images “after” – photographer: Scott Norsworthy

RHEINZINK America, Inc. has led the introduction of architectural zinc in North America and continues to offer one of the most trusted and trusted brands in the industry. Its product portfolio includes RHEINZINK-CLASSIC® gloss laminate, RHEINZINK-prePATINA® blue-gray and graphite gray, RHEINZINK-artCOLOR® in a range of colors, RHEINZINK-GRANUM® basalt and sky gray; and architectural grade zinc options pigmented in RHEINZINK-PRISMO® color.

Architects and contractors are backed by unmatched customer service and technical support. RHEINZINK is readily available through an established network of qualified distributors and system partners in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Ideal for roofing, facade and wall cladding systems, gutters and interior applications. RHEINZINK is environmentally friendly, 100% recyclable and offers a potential lifespan of 100 years or more. For more information on RHEINZINK, call 781-729-0812 or visit


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