Compelling Duality – OG House by Omar Gandhi Architects
OG House by Omar Gandhi is a private residence in Halifax, the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Not only is it an informed interpretation of how light and scale inform experience but, as Omar’s own family home, it is also a deeply personal project.
The initial brief for the project was to create a hybrid live-work space that could house Omar’s growing architecture practice as well as offer a place of refuge for his family. As it happens, his team grew considerably over the course of the project, and as such, they work from a separate studio space in Halifax (there is another in Toronto). That said, the ground floor has retained its studio identity as a dedicated space for Omar and his team to work on community projects.
The remainder of the house has been conceived in direct response to his family’s patterns of living. Sited on a tight parcel of land, the footprint was heavily defined by setbacks from abutting properties and the street. Cleverly, Omar has used these parameters to gently guide the architecture and ensuing build, resulting in a form that works with, not against, its context. As Omar says, “the volume was resolved from the outset so it became a process of articulation and sculpting, and in some cases, sacrificing overall square footage for moments of joy, delight and surprise.”
Inside, the layout unfolds as a series of sequential spaces. Interestingly, the main entrance is located at the rear, and it leads guests through a lounge area – Omar’s favourite spot for a morning coffee – into the studio deeper into the plan. On the second floor, there is a small bathroom as well as the kitchen, dining and living room. Another flight of stairs takes visitors to the primary bedroom level, and one more partial level above contains Omar’s son’s bedroom as well as a guest bathroom.
Every element of this home is cohesive and curated with consideration, and the deftly placed apertures create a nuanced interplay of light and shadow. The ceiling in the primary living area tilts upwards at a steep angle, opening the space and ushering an abundance of natural light into this integral part of the home while maintaining privacy from neighbours and passers-by. Further, the material palette of white oak, buffed brick, stone and raw steel is the ideal canvas upon which the soft, indirect light plays.
Luminosity and sculpted space were central to OG House’s design rationale and the result is a home that exudes a singular quality of light and a surprising sense of volume for its reasonably modest footprint. This speaks to Omar’s most treasured aspect of this project; as he says, “from the street, looking at the building, it’s actually quite closed off, but on the inside, it’s so light-filled, highly textured and really warm – it’s a wonderful duality that we were able to achieve.”