Partisans’ Groundbreaking “Fold House” Bends Into the Surrounding Geography
Pushing the limits of physics and design, Canadian architecture studio Partisans has created a residence that rolls and bends into its surrounding landscape. Appropriately named the Fold House, the undulating guest house and pool were commissioned by homeowner Scott Friedman after a fire erupted in his original guest house in 2017, causing his family to flee mid-meal.
Friedman, a food and beverage venture investor and innovator, decided to rebuild, but not in the Georgian Revival style of the larger dwelling on the southern Ontario property. After becoming friends with Partisans co-founders Pooya Baktash and Alex Josephson, he shared his ideas for a fresher, more nature-oriented edifice.
“Architecture is not just the act of designing a building, it’s a way of seeing, thinking, and making that expands and even revolutionizes our experience of the world,” as the firm says on its website. This build would challenge the idea of how materials perform, requiring more plasticity in the quest for a more biological vibe.
The Partisans team came up with a “shapeshifting structure” to create a new retreat for family and friends. The 4,473-square-foot building incorporates three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a heated pool, and pavilion, as well as common areas like the kitchen and living spaces. But the home’s most dramatic feature is decidedly the “folding” roof line of the pool area, which plunges down at one end and remerges on the other side of a steel staircase that leads to a garden-filled rooftop and connects to the rest of the quarters.
Achieving that type of bend in the structural materials required some cutting-edge engineering feats. Using a technique normally only employed in the construction of musical instruments and furniture, Partisans was able to bend wood into the desired shape using compression, a rare application on a project of this scale. The pool is also encased on one side by a sliding 80-foot by 10-foot glass wall, providing breathtaking views, while the roof is held up by a hidden 90-foot steel beam that gives it a floating appearance from the outside.
The slope of the home mimics the topography of the property, which sits near an escarpment and is surrounded by rolling hills of forest. To create this nature-blending result, the Partisans designers first made a 3D scan of the area, inserting a digital model of the building to check for optimal placement. The firm also chose a green roof to help blur the lines between the organic and manmade features on the property.
For energy efficiency, the windows of the main guest house have been offset checkerboard style to maximize winter sun and limit summer heat. The kitchen was also expanded to serve as a food-testing lab for Friedman’s many culinary business endeavors. His family of five can gather there to taste the latest flavor experiments and give feedback. The Fold House is both reminiscent of the enfolding landscape around it and Friedman’s wholistic approach to life.
“Architecture is … a brand, it is a statement of one’s values manifested into brick and mortar,” the Partisan website says. “This is why we do what we do and why we work for such special people.