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The Weather Network
Jun. 15, 2019 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Architext: Marriage by design
Woodbourne Inn in St. Davids. (Supplied)

I fail to understand people who believe that an addition to a building should never be of the same design style as the original. Their argument appears to be that if there is no differential, then the original is somehow diminished or lost in the new composition. While this certainly can occur, why would a different style for the reno addition alter the level of threat to the integrity of the original? In my opinion, it doesn’t. Simply put, without the skills of a sympathetic and highly talented designer any addition is likely to result in a seriously flawed composition.

Consider the case of Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum and its 2007 “Crystal” addition wherein two wildly divergent styles are locked in a discordant battle for dominance within the presentation. In effect, there is no overall composition but rather an attached juxtaposition of two separate and distinct designs which, lacking any mutual design continuity, diminishes both.

Whether designing an addition in the style of the original or another form, success lies in using the key design principles in a sympathetic fashion which respects the heritage of the original building while creating a unified composition. Take for instance the Woodbourne Inn located in St. Davids.    

In 1839, the Woodruffs built a solid Georgian home which they occupied while their family fortunes multiplied. By 1880, they decided to add a substantial extension in the Gothic Revival style. Importantly, the original Georgian was left unaltered and its linear lines were carried across the new Gothic addition. The cross gable orientation of the taller Gothic balances the weight and expanse of the Georgian. Even the clapboard was precisely aligned to re-enforce horizontal continuity between the new and the old. The result is a happy ‘marriage’ of complementary partners which just “feels right.”