Riverhouse has dramatically affected the way that people in the community think of their riverfront and the value and beauty inherent in the local environment. The community is excited by this new residential project and it has drawn attention to the significant beauty of the area. We hope that this house will have a positive and lasting influence on the involvement of architects in designing places for people to live in this area.
The project was built in an area whose cottage industry type building culture dominates the local residential construction industry. Typically, homes is this area are built by small scale home builders, independent tradesman and do-it-yourself home owners based on generic plans and rarely involve the professional services of architects and engineers. As a consequence, the houses lack any meaningful site planning, design or construction detailing and are often built in spite of the context, rather than with consideration of the local riverfront environment.
In this context, the design of Riverhouse posed a significant challenge. A serious effort was made to shop local when possible and this often required collaborating with local companies to use materials, methods and designs well beyond their typical scope. The construction of Riverhouse relied heavily on utilizing local commercial construction trades and sub-contractors more familiar with the specific materials and methods required by the design. The project team hoped to benefit from trades experienced with high-rise hotel construction that had developed locally to support the Niagara Falls tourism industry. The design team worked closely with Niagara area commercial concrete, core-slab and steel fabricators for the houses primary structure and a high-rise curtainwall company to fabricate the high performance aluminum windows, auto shade systems and aluminum cladding for the exterior. Commercial contractors were employed for the light weight steel framing, dimensional stone and wood cladding, as well as the primary mechanical systems including hydronic radiant heating throughout.