Every year, the Calgary Stampede brings a 10-day celebration of western heritage and cowboy spirit to Alberta’s largest city. Along with the parade, rodeo events, midway rides, and pancake breakfasts, the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth — as the Stampede is also known — features a Dream Home lottery in support of the Rotary Club of Calgary at Stampede Park. Since 1995, the Rotary Dream Home has been designed and built by Homes by Avi, a respected residential builder headquartered in Calgary, with branches in Edmonton and Austin, Texas.
“Designing and building the Dream Home is a win-win for us,” says Rachel Amsterdam, Show Home Decorator at Homes by Avi. “We can show what we do best by building a beautiful home, while we also get to support a great charitable organization.”
The Dream Home prize package is valued at $1.26 million, and the lottery remains the Rotary Club of Calgary at Stampede Park’s largest fundraising initiative. Proceeds raised are used to build local playgrounds, purchase medical equipment, fund homeless shelters and support rehabilitation programs. Schneider Electric is a partner in this initiative, supplying an extensive package of innovative electrical devices including a Wiser Energy smart home monitoring system and smart connected wiring devices. The smart monitoring and devices will allow homeowners to know exactly where they are using energy and be able to control and automate their new home to maximize energy efficiency based on their unique lifestyle. In addition, Schneider Electric also provided a comprehensive electrical protection system including a whole home surge protection unit, a loadcentre, and circuit breakers for the 2,537 sq. ft. home. “This project dovetails with our own interest in supplying the best electrical protection and supporting personalized sustainability,” says Lorne Hedges, National Manager, Marketing and Business Development for Schneider Electric in Canada. “We can help the Rotary Club and make the Dream Home smarter, more energy efficient and user-friendly — while also showcasing our innovative residential products.”
Garden-to-table style and agricultural urbanism
This year, the Dream Home will be moved to Rangeview by Section23 Developments after being exhibited at Stampede Park during this year’s festivities. “Rangeview is a garden-to-table community, one of the first in Calgary,” says Amsterdam.
Rangeview incorporates land that was settled by the Ollerenshaw family in the 1920s and is named after the one-room schoolhouse the local children attended. A sustainability-focused neighbourhood, Rangeview is being developed using the principles of “Agricultural Urbanism,” which seeks to integrate local food systems into a community’s design and programming. Homeowners here will benefit from nearby greenhouse space, gardening facilities, protected wetlands, and weekly farm produce deliveries.
Taking inspiration from the community itself, the team at Homes by Avi designed the two-storey, four-bedroom home to blend elements of traditional Canadian prairie farmhouse style and modern functionality. “We brought in a more heritage feeling, with panelling details, a coffered ceiling, and other parts that are almost whimsical,” Amsterdam says. “Since COVID, everyone is spending more time at home, and they want comfort and serenity there.”
Designing the Rotary Dream Home is less constrained, says Amsterdam, than her typical projects. When she designs a show home, which potential buyers tour before construction, it must appeal to a very broad audience. A Dream Home, Amsterdam says, can incorporate what the designers themselves want as unique, inspirational elements: “I’m an avid gardener myself, so designing a sunroom and planting station in this home was very exciting for me.” The exercise room, too, is something “people can envision themselves using.”
Homes by Avi partners with leading organizations like Schneider Electric and other companies important to the project’s success: a more efficient, exciting home is certain to attract more lottery ticket buyers — which ultimately enhances the Rotary Club’s fundraising and charitable efforts. “We partner with companies we use in the other homes we build. We know what they can do, and buyers trust names they know,” Amsterdam explains. Some, like Schneider Electric and Moen, are global brands, while
others are well-known local companies, like Camelot Interiors, which supplied wallpaper throughout. Even a Dream Home has to be built on a budget, she says, but partnerships allow her to include high-end features that enhance the home and showcase Homes by Avi’s commitment to high-quality residential construction in the community.
The Dream Home team also partners with a local artist each year. For 2023, McKenna Prather’s artwork, combining painting with hand-stitched embroidery, will “bring the home to life,” Amsterdam says. “We’ve seen artists we’ve worked with blossom after being part of the Dream Home project. We’re grateful we can help.”
Unlike Prather’s vividly coloured art, some details are more subtle, such as the Wi-Fi-enabled dimmer switches and motion sensor devices that were part of Schneider Electric’s 2023 contribution. They’re not flashy, but they’re very important to the quality of the home, says Amsterdam. “You may not recognize it at first, but it’s devices like these that actually improve your life every day.”
Moving the house
After the Stampede is over, the house will be disassembled and moved to its permanent location in Rangeview, where the winners of this year’s lottery will be able to make the house their home. The move is challenging, but each Dream Home is designed to come apart in transportable sections — as many as seven in some years. The house must be built robustly to handle the move, and it must be easy to re-assemble again. The electrical system, Amsterdam notes, has to be designed with disconnection and reconnection worked out in advance. “Moving day,” she says, “is a little stressful for everyone.”
This is the 27th Rotary Dream Home that Homes by Avi has built and the fifth that Amsterdam has been involved in. The 2023 home has a “timeless, understated feel, with high-end details that aren’t flashy. It feels luxury, but it’s not trying to be luxury,” she says. “Every year, the home we build becomes my favourite. But this year’s home really is special.”
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