By Eleonora Cugurullo…
Every idea requires details to become reality. The more creative the idea, the more vital details become. And when those ideas are taken through the rigours of transforming into material realities, the details are so finely and seamlessly grafted into the whole that they are barely noticeable to all, but the initiated. Or unless someone involved in the transformation takes you through the process.
The internationally awarded practice Superkül was founded in Toronto in 2002 by principals Andre D’Elia and Meg Graham. Whereas Andre’s strengths are sustainability and a sapient mix between design and construction detailing; Meg’s are her passion and critical insight for design of small landscape projects to larger public interventions. Meg also keeps herself very active in the academic field, by tutoring young minds at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. The result of their combined expertise has been one of the reasons that they are recognized as one of the leading design practices in Canada, where sustainability, engagement to the natural context and attention are their strengths.
The practice’s portfolio includes single private houses completely immersed in the surrounding landscape; master planning; and institutional projects such as the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Many of their residential projects exude a sophisticated quaintness. The Split House in Toronto, which takes its name from its split in plan and section, creates multiple experiences within its interior through skylights and intelligently located windows. The owner desired a grand space which could be frequently used to entertain guests. What was produced was a space where natural light enters from various angles in a theatrical manner, without compromising the existence of an everyday comfortable interior. The natural light magnifies the effective square footage of the house, illuminating the two story height of the open living space. The Split House is closely related to a peaceful back-garden and to the adjacent traditional buildings, from which they kept some reference heights and plays of protruding volumes on the façade.
Superkül is known for their impressive detailing. We asked Meg how they get their clients to appreciate this factor as much as the overall vision. It is not always easy to communicate to clients the importance of details, and how certain materials and shapes can influence the overall impact on the building. “For many it is a leap of faith, ” says Meg. ” It is not easy to completely understand the project at every level until it is built.” This is probably what generates the strongest emotions in their clients as soon as they move into their new houses. For Meg, the most rewarding conversations with clients are the ones which happened after they finally saw and felt the spaces in a way that they only had imagined before. One of the best moments of her career has been receiving a phone call from a client moved to tears by how magical and perfect the house was that they had achieved together.
In Meg’s opinion, clients come to Superkül looking for a specific project, where the architecture is “first and foremost about the fundamental elements of good design: proportions and massing, function, and a profound connection to the build and natural context”.
Superkül’s work are examples of how the business interaction between architects and clients can create an intense positive aura in a project, without compromising the high quality design and environmental impact.
Eleonora Cugurullo is an Italian architect with a MSc in sustainable design from the University of Edinburgh.