A new architecture firm emerging on Calgary's design scene is making itself known with its modern, innovative and creative designs. Gravity Architecture is a relative newcomer to the Calgary development industry — having only been around since 2014 — but the nascent practice has already gained a following by creating fresh and visually striking designs for Calgary's myriad of developers.
Though the firm is in its infancy, it's not without a solid background of experience. Gravity emerged from the residential design firm Inertia, which was founded by Stephen Barnecut and Trent Letwiniuk in 2006. Although Stephen was trained in architecture at the University of Calgary, creating a registered architecture firm was not a requirement for designing low-density projects. But as their clients started to get bigger, and the market started to shift from single-detached and semi-detached houses to rowhouses, townhouses and multi-residential houses, they saw the need to create an architecture firm to meet the demand. Inertia and Gravity continue to run concurrently, with Inertia handling the smaller projects and Gravity handling the larger ones.
Gravity has many projects on the go, ranging from smaller projects in the eight- to ten-unit range, and on to mid- sized projects like a 26-unit mixed-use development on 16th Avenue NE and 67-unit project on 19th Avenue SW called Mission 19. Also coming out of the office is a 17-unit multi-residential project in Altadore, and a 32-unit project for Habitat for Humanity in Silver Springs. They also have a larger suite of projects including a 48-unit rowhouse project in Legacy, a 50-unit rowhouse project in Redstone, a 92-unit townhouse project also in Redstone, and a 164-unit townhouse project in Sage Meadows.
We spoke with Stephen Barnecut, principal and co-owner of Gravity to ask him about the success of his company, and about the state of architecture in Calgary. When Barnecut was asked about the reason for their success in such a short time, he suggested that their fortune lies in an ingrained understanding of what both builders and purchasers need for them to commit to developing and purchasing new houses. Not only have Letwiniuk and Barnecut worked in builders' offices before, many of their technologists have worked for builders as well, and understand what they expect in terms of construction, marketing, after-purchase customer care, and timelines.
When asked about the Calgary architecture scene, Barnecut addressed the city's maturation in urban design and scale. "Two of the most exciting shifts that we're seeing in Calgary is an increased focus on urbanism and a decreased emphasis on designing in historical styles," said Barnecut. The result is that Calgary is becoming a more liveable city with diverse neighbourhoods, complete streets, and multi-modal transportation options, and increasingly all of this is being achieved with contemporary forms of architecture that feel more like buildings built in the 21st century rather than the 19th century."
Barnecut also added, "some of the most exciting stuff going on in Calgary isn't the landmark towers coming up downtown, nor the better bridges that we've put over the Bow. We're most excited by the new neighbourhoods that have and will be inserted into Calgary's suburban fabric. Garrison Woods and The Bridges are ongoing successes, and these will be followed by Currie, the University District, Seton and Livingston."
We will continue to follow up on the work of Gravity and their projects as things evolve. Check in with us regularly at our main Calgary SkyriseCities page to stay ahead of the city's exploding development scene.