Houses that provide all of the vital physiological functions, connecting our own bodies to the larger environment.
One of the projects that first inspired me to consider more efficient/mass-produced methods for ecological housing.
Completed in 1996 near Stuttgart, Germany, das minimalhaus was our first R2000 prototype, designed while I was still an architecture student at the University of Stuttgart.
Vancouver eco-activists have figured out a way to go easy on the earth, and the pocketbook. Originally published in THIS Magazine, July-August, 2002, by Rebecca Atkinson
The world’s first off-grid, Travel Trailer (CSA certified). Featured extensively on TV, Radio and print media including Oprah’s O at Home Magazine. Winner of DX award for interior design and flagship modern design at the forefront of the Tiny Home craze.
Andy worked with architects Alliance to develop and complete the 3D BIM model in ArchiCad as model manager for this tower and podium project in Toronto’s historic district.
This development consists of two buildings, a 46 story tower and a 30 story residential tower. Grade levels of both towers include public commercial space, featuring 2 restaurants and a bar.
The first project in the $14billion dollar redevelopment initiative of Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s Regent Park, ‘Block 14’ is a tower & podium project that exemplifies the new planning for the community.
Electrigon is a flexible parametric 2D/3D library object with energy data for modelling, costing and design – data that can be subsequently called out in our interactive schedules and 3D interior elevations.
Designed as a 14-storey infill development with sub-grade parking and retail spaces fronting King Street and Adelaide. this concrete shear wall structure was an exercise in strategic setbacks for maximum daylighting in consultation with neighbourhood stakeholder groups.
Designed as a surf-shack for a Canadian celebrity, the Malibu Edition took the best of the California Addition, and integrated a walk-through breezeway, twin bedrooms with a shared bath, and an extra-spacious walk-in-closet and spa bathroom.
this 3,000sf residence in North York was designed to create a strong but secure presence for a prominent lawyer. Featuring a brick-clad ICF structure with industrial steel grating and mirror glass, the interiors were designed around the owner’s collection of art.
This was a workflow developed for a range of clients where we wanted them to focus initially on the quality of the spaces and the architecture, and only later on the materials. In collaboration with work on the archicad.ca blog, Andy documented the process to obtain good quality NPR renderings using ArchiCad’s Lightworks and Sketch render functions only, and then subsequently automating the compositing of these two renderings in photoshop
A contemporary furniture store in downtown Toronto required some additional retail floor space, and so Andy designed the Retail Unit for SDS based on the 12WIDE chassis system. The Retail Unit was basically deployed overnight, in downtown Toronto, without requiring a building permit.
Based on a 12′ wide chassis system, the ECE is an ultra-simple design that optimizes structure by using short spans, and reducing the surface-area to interior volume ratio even further than most 12 wides, limiting heatloss in cold climates.
While smart growth and eco-developments have become part of the mainstream planning dialogue, trailer parks demonstrate a form of sustainable infrastructure and development patterns that already exist.
This 2,400sf residence on the Muskoka River was designed with a mid-century modern sensibility. Featuring a side-split layout with counterposed butterfly roofs, the garage roof has a corner-door that opens on two sides to form a pavilion for larger gatherings. This house was built to R2000 standards.
A schematic exploration for Altius Architecture to consider options for renovating a former boiler building in the Liberty Village District of Toronto. Design by Andy Thomson for Altius Architecture, Inc.
In 2009, Lisa Selin Davis wrote for Grist.org, which the Guardian subsequently picked up – article here – about a new vision for a greener trailer park – which see as the future of suburban development for a number of reasons; the footprint is lighter on the earth, there is no disruption of landforms, infrastructure … Continue Reading
The OHOME was designed to be easy to ship and build, and is characterized by broad overhangs on all roof edges and clean contemporary styling. Access to an optional green roof is also featured. The green helps with cooling in Summer months – and is ideally suited to temperate climates. Featuring 3 distinct models with 12′ ceilings, the OHOME offers generous, airy living spaces that are well suited for a wide range of climates.
Building our own steel-skinned SIPFS gives us a high degree of design freedom with exceptional quality control. We use materials and finishes that are impervious to moisture and mold formation that can also be made airtight to exceed the most stringent, energy-efficient envelope standards – resulting in healthy buildings that will outlast conventional construction.
Major green features here are increased thermal mass (double-layer-drywall) to take advantage of night-time cooling, tall automated awning windows and clerestorey windows to dump heat at night, and xeriscape or drought tolerant landscaping, as well as green and healthy materials and robust insulation to exceed the new Title 24 requirements.
The Ottawa MEC was one such C2000 project – and as the Ottawa store had outgrown its 10-yr old premises, Linda Chapman was hired back to explore some expansion possibilities. She was open to porting all the work done to date over to ArchiCad BIM software, so that we would be well positioned to deliver renderings as well as full construction modelling services to the client – which seemed well received in our coordination meetings.
Prototype for a new neighbourhood development, where changes to zoning allowed live/work studio lofts for artists and artisans, complete with courtyards over parking levels. This project ultimately led to the formalization of the PDR Zoning.
This transformation of the former Esprit Clothing Factory in the Dogpatch neighbourhood of San Francisco into a wide range of mixed-use infill with condominiums. The project included the restoration and adaptive reuse of two brick and heavy timber warehouse buildings dating from the early 20th century.
A project designed for a steep site on the shore of Meech Lake in Gatineau under direction of Ottawa Architect, Linda Chapman, OAA.
This house was designed to accommodate three families in the Marina District (Parc de Cèdres) of Aylmer, QC. With two generous two-bedroom units in the basement/walk-out floor, and three bedrooms in the one-and-a-half story dwelling above. The traditional forms complement the architecture of the historic neighbourhood, while contemporary detailing keeps the design clean and simple.
Designed (and built!) to cost less than $ 150,000, this modified Quonset structure was designed as a prototype for First Nations Housing in Northern Ontario. This building doubles as the welcome centre and common utility building for the Domaine de l’O campground on the Ottawa River, near Pembroke, Ontario.
Domaine de l’O was conceived as a Carbon-Neutral ecological campground resort that would slowly (over 10 years) transform into an ecovillage of tiny homes and cabins. This 50 acre property on 1700′ of the Ottawa River near Pembroke, Ontario boasts stellar views and miles of unspoiled wilderness.
Changes and upgrades proposed to a historic complex called the ‘Bishop’s Palace’ for the Catholic Church to accommodate a new elevator and stairs, and demolition of some obsolete and problematic buildings from the 1950’s.
Whitewater Brewing Company is a craft brewer based in Cobden, ON. When the owners, hardcore river rats, weren’t paddling the whitewater of one of the world’s best rivers (The Ottawa), they decided to brew beer. Their endeavours bore hoppy fruit and international kudos, and are now selling beer in Brewer’s Retail and expanding their business and production capacity into a new, 7,200sf purpose-built brewery, restaurant and brew-pub.
Designed for four seasons, the carbon-neutral CUBIC cabins are modern and simple, crafted from a unique heavy-timber panel similar to CLT (Cross-Lamintaed-Timber) which offers the multiple benefits of thermal mass, insulation, durability and a beautiful interior finish – all integral to the product.
A simple storefront upgrade on Pembroke St. in Pembroke, ON. This project took advantage of a storefront retrofit project administered by the Pembroke BIA. Signage was fabricated from laser-cut corten steel with a white acrylic lightbox, and features a retractable glazed entry for live music events to be visible from the patio.
34 units Surrounding Heritage Designated postmaster’s home. While this development is located on an arterial street in Scarborough, slated for increased density in the context of a demand for more units of affordable and accessible housing, the challenge was to provide these units while maintaining sight-lines and use of the heritage designated home on the site as a community centre as requested by Toronto Heritage.
Andy was asked to participate in the restoration of the light tower and keeper’s cottage at the Burlington Canal. Andy is the sixth generation descendent of Capt. Thomson, one of the first lighthouse keeper’s at the Burlington Main Light, constructed and opened in 1858.
While developing a concept for YPQ’s new international air terminal building, we were asked to consider a hangar structure for the Boeing 737 aircraft that would be used for these short-haul flights. While a pre-engineered steel building is the typical response for large-span, economical structures, we wondered if a wooden structure could be just as economical while offering superior fire resistance, daylighting and aesthetics.
Over 8,000 square meters of new timber construction designed for future expansion. The proposed terminal is designed to support regional and short-haul international charter and scheduled flights (737 Aircraft) with pending negotiations for a scheduled carrier. Terminal Design is based on several regional airports and a new, customized process for accelerated check-in and security clearance.
This project consisted of 46,000sf of built area in a courtyard configuration, where 16 distinct modular sections of glue-laminated structural components that were pre-cut, pre-drilled, finished, packaged and shipped overseas for assembly.
45′ Container Prefab Park Model Trailer Units for a 100 Unit, Seasonal Resort Development. The concept was to work with the raw industrial language of the containers so that they are not completely ‘disguised’ – but to add insulation and all of the basic amenities one expects in a comfortable Summer cottage
Affordable buildings are the best way to achieve goals of affordable housing. Built for less than the cost of code-minimum, our research projects have proven the economic advantages of net-zero design and construction.
Inspired by the Canadian Shield, this 62 unit condominium blends into the Muskoka landscape. The approach facade disappears into the forest surroundings, while on the parallel facade the units become the focus point with private balconies that frame views of the golf course and surrounding forest.
This 10,000sf contemporary addition to a 4,000sf Empire Style Stone House (ca. 1863). The addition was proposed to allow for 4 individual suites within a primary residence in Erin Ontario for a large family, designed to accomodate large gatherings with ample common spaces for entertaining.
A 20′ Coretn Steel Laser-Cut sliding gate proposed for the 1863 farmstead project in Erin was conceived as a contemporary take in classical, Islamic tile geometry.
A 6,000sf Restaurant Concept for Petawawa, Ontario. Client: Whitewater Brewing Company. Interior Design includes extensive Barrier-Free Design
A tenant improvement project for a commercial franchisee that offers after-school learn-to-code lessons in a cheerful, safe and accessible space. Barrie, Ontario. 3,000sf. Opening Spring 2020.
Adjacent to the old railroad station and switch yards at Smiths Falls, this project started with a program for a 875sf residence with carport, designed to meet or exceed the R2000 standard. T
BRAVE | Social Cinema is a social architectural project of Thomson Architecture, Inc. designed to develop the market for Ecological and Socially progressive design through educational cinema. BRAVE offers a new cinematic experience for Barrie. One that is local, accessible, and above all a social experience.
Zero Carbon Renovation of a Stone Barn ca. 1850, in Morriston, Ontario. Design Development started February 2019. Construction slated for Summer 2019. Part of a 3-Building Residential Complex in Morriston, Ontario.
Das Minimalhuas was our first built project and was completed in 1996 near Stuttgart Germany. This original project has proven to be so efficient and durable, as well as easily expandable, that we decided to revisit the project after 23 years
The third project on a property that was subdivided in compliance with the rezoning of a historic town centre in Morriston, ON, this 2,000sf residence features a lower ‘granny flat’ with an upper studio apartment.
STAR DOME is a conceptual public art project that imagines a future humanity that can live with 1/10th the material, energy and resources that we use today. Referred to as ‘Factor 10’ design, the concept represents that to support future populations on a finite Earth, a radical simplification of lifestyles may be required.
Thomson Architecture, Inc. was asked by the City of Barrie’s Poet Laureate (Victoria Butler) to provide services and/or materials to create a small roof/structure to protect the public piano to be placed at Meridian Place downtown. We were happy to support any public project of this kind and so provided both design, materials and installation … Continue Reading
“Architects literally help shape a better future. But right now they, and everyone else who cares about the climate crisis, are up against a financial system that supports the fossil-fueled status quo–indeed, up against banks literally lending hundreds of billions to expand oil and gas infrastructure.” ~ Bill McKibben
Image Above: SOLUS+ by Koleda, a Switzerland-based engineering company that manufactures in Latvia. The product launched on Indiegogo, and was fully funded in 2019, and is now in full commercial production and sales of their ‘smart’ radiant panel system. We recently went for a wee drive in the country, and happened upon a sturdy, sensible … Continue Reading
There is no question that the COVID-19 crisis has affected vast sectors of the economy and the public in adverse ways, but in Architecture, as in economics, there are models of more resilient structures that can withstand massive shocks and still maintain their stability. One such shock was the financial crash of 2007/8. I was … Continue Reading
This 2,000sf residence features 4 bedrooms over 3 stories, with a tower-like massing to take advantage of a distant lake view. Designed to target Passive House levels of performance, this project uses deep overhangs and balconies to limit Summer cooling loads, while providing ample glazed areas to maximize Winter light and solar gains. This project is 100% off the grid, and is slated for construction in early 2021.
Goals: Repurpose under-utilized parking areas Create inter-connected public spaces using artful street furniture Create open-air/roofed market spaces for events & retail Enhance existing Waterfront linkages to new destination nodes Re-vitalize neglected areas of downtown ie. Spritcatcher Park, areas surrounding transit station Expand the Barrie Waterfront vision to areas that seem ‘missed’ by the redeveloped waterfront … Continue Reading