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Inspiring Contemporary Architecture from North of the Border

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Our northerly neighbors harbor a surprisingly positive view of their housing market. In a recent survey, almost 50% of Canadians believe their housing market and economy are back on the up-and-up. Even in the downturn, contemporary Canadian architecture didn't suffer much. International starchitecture landed in the form of Norman Foster's The Bow in Calgary and Frank Gehry's renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Less prominent architects were also turning out some quality work, despite the economic crunch, like Altius Architecture's Cliff House (above). Set atop a rocky bluff in Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, the 3,200-square-foot Cliff House was completed in 2009 in a mix of modern style and rustic materials.

? Also set on the water, the Elenko Residence by CEI Architecture ditches the classic materials for a pure white modern look. Located in Osoyoos, British Columbia, this rectilinear modern looks like it'd be more appropriate on the beaches of Malibu. The block design takes maximum advantage of a narrow lot, while a dock out front offers extended sunbathing space.

? For something even more bare-bones, there's this black-and-white mountain chalet, known as the Clearview Chalet, designed by Atelier Kastelic Buffey. The stripped down house has a barn-like traditional form, but improves on the classics with broad swathes of glass and a bold dark exterior color scheme. The interiors are blindingly white, but these post construction photos don't include much in the way of art and decor.

Photos: Tom Arban/Arch Digest

? American architects have also been heading north for commissions in the downturn, and not just one Frank Gehry. The Los Angeles-based duo of Trevor Abramson and Douglas Teiger headed to Toronto to design a 12,500-square-foot mansion with an airy California feel. Arch Digest paid a visit in 2008, which suggests this place was planned prior to the market downturn. So does the wall with integrated fish tank: extravagance at its best.

Photos: Tom Arban/Arch Daily

? The Great White North has even seen fit to provide us with some stunning urban architecture, like this Toronto townhouse. Designed by Teeple Architects, the house is cased in glass and steel, with a cantilevered design that adds visual interest while maximizing space. Which means there's plenty of space for the artist-owner to live while painting and selling his works in the house.

· U.S. vs. World: Who’s Upbeat on Housing? [WSJ]
· Cliff House [Altius Architecture]
· Elenko Residence [Contemporist]
· Clearview Chalet [AKB]
· Open Auditions [Arch Digest]
· Pachter Residence [Arch Daily]