visualising process: Ed Burtynsky on documenting Shim-Sutcliffe's Integral House

imagineacity - installation views:
introduction + Ed Burtynsky - Integral House site photograph
wall (l-r) Shim-Sutcliffe Architects - Integral House (Toronto) process drawings; Ed Burtynsky - Integral House site photography; MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple - Canadian High Commission, Dhaka, Bangladesh (process drawings)

imagineacity - installation views:
Shim-Sutcliffe Architects - Integral House (Toronto) process drawings;
Ed Burtynsky - Integral House site photography

The Integral House sits at the edge of a Toronto ravine, a residential project that re-imagines boundaries of public and private, cultural and natural, monumental and intimate. Commissioned by Dr. James Stewart, calculus scholar and musician, the structure was to be not only a personal dwelling, but also a social venue for music and performance. Addressing unique contextual factors, situating the house in relationship to the strangely urban condition of Toronto ravines, architects Brigitte Shim and Harold Sutcliffe infused architectural design with sculptural form to convey a sense of connection to the unique qualities of site. Moving beyond a model of architecture as a neutral grid or box, the geometry of the design is dominated by the curve as it descends into the ravine, manifest in details such as an undulating perimeter wall and reflecting pool at the base, reiterating the structure’s natural context.

A unique record of the demolition and construction process was produced by photographer Ed Burtynsky, who documented the evolution of the house. One of Canada's most respected photographers, Burtynsky is best known for his depictions of global industrial landscapes that examine nature transformed through industry, transposing the raw elements of mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, oil production and recycling into highly expressive visions, seeking out sites that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning.

Burtynsky was commissioned by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects to document the construction of the 18,000 square foot home on the Rosedale Valley ravine and to produce the architectural photography of the site development. Burtynsky offered insight into his visual approach to the architectural construction as an industrial site, in this CBC interview on site with Shelagh Rogers in 2005, going into year 2 of documentation of the project.