Robert Street Residence is a contemporary home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, designed by Taylor Smyth Architects. Here is a description from the architects, “Back in 2009, Kate Prevedello approached Michael Taylor, a partner at Taylor Smyth Architects, with a proposition. In 1999 she had worked for partner Michael Taylor when she was an architecture student. Since then she had decided to go into construction, and was building new houses and renovating old ones. She asked Michael Taylor to design a modern house for her own residence that she would also build. This would be her first modern construction project. During the process of building it, she came to understand both the elegance and the challenges of contemporary construction and can now speak eloquently at length about the importance of alignments and reveals and bemoan the lack of trim to cover inconsistencies.
Kate and Michael both felt that trying to build a new house to replicate the style of the old houses would not be successful, nor was it appropriate to try. However, Michael set out to find ways to reference the surrounding Victorian vernacular through scale, proportion and colour without mimicry. A distinctive feature of the old houses was a vertical gable and front porch. This inspired him to configure the front façade with a projecting 2 storey bay window that picks up on the proportion of these gables, and to provide a front porch. However, instead of treating these as 2 distinct elements, the porch and the bay window are unified into one composition that appears to fold up from the porch overhang to the surrounding frame of the
The other materials chosen for the facade are a dark brick that is almost black, but with a warm reddish tint to it that ties it into the color of the neighborhood red brick, and zinc that is used for flashing and the cladding of the set back 3rd floor. A pre-patinated zinc sheet product was sourced that also has a warm slightly reddish tint that complements the brick.
The rear of the house at the living room is all glass. It opens up to the backyard with 2 large glass doors that slide in front of the third glass panel. Outside at the patio, a deep sunshade trellis/porch substantially cuts down the amount of heat gain from the western exposure. The stone hearth and wall of the indoor wood burning fireplace extend out to become a bench and counter for the outdoor barbecue, further blurring the distinction between inside and outside.
The center of the house is a double height volume with a linear skylight that runs the length of the space and a continuous slot window down one wall, washing the dining room with natural light. Kate worked with a kitchen and bathroom manufacturer to design and specify all the interior millwork and had very strong ideas about what she wanted for an interior material palette – oak flooring in both rift and quarter cut, and Bianco Assiago marble that she chose because it is quarried near the Italian town of Asolo where her father was born. This is used on the kitchen counters, the first step at the stair and for the fireplace wall and hearth. It has a “leather” finish that is slightly rustic and lightly textured, this gives the stone a soft sheen and retains the color better and is easier to maintain than a honed surface.
The third floor roof deck takes advantage of a view of the iconic CN tower. Two sliding glass doors meet at 90 degrees, so when they are open the corner of the room that is used as an office appears to dissolve.
Photos: Andrew Snow Photography
Two Hulls House is nestled in a glaciated, coastal landscape, with a cool maritime climate on the island of Nova Scotia, Canada and has been designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. The geomorphology of the site consists of granite bedrock and boulder till, creating pristine white sand beaches, and turquoise waters. The two pavilions float above the shoreline like two ship’s hulls up on cradles for the winter, forming protected outdoor places both between and under them. This is a landscape-viewing instrument; like a pair of binoculars, first looking out to sea. A third transverse ‘eye’ looks down the coastline, and forms a linking entry piece. A concrete seawall on the foreshore protects the house from rogue waves.
This is a full-time home for a family of four; consisting of a ‘day pavilion’ and a ‘night pavilion’. One approaches from the understated land side between the abstract, library ends of the two pavilions; then either passes through toward the sea, or left into the living pavilion, or right into the sleeping pavilion. One structure contains a central core, while the other contains a side core. The seaward ends of the two main forms (living and master bedroom) delaminate, creating protected outdoor porches or night time ‘lanterns’ over the water. The third linking form contains the generous entry foyer, core, and the kitchen. The great room contains a floating 24′ totemic hearth.
The house remains a fertile research vehicle in the education of an architect. This is a steel frame house, with a wood skin. Its white, steel endoskeleton resists both gravity loads and wind uplift. The 32′ cantilevers and concrete fin foundations invite the sea to pass under without damage. The wooden rain screen consists of 8″ vertical, board-on-batten on the two ‘hulls’, while the linking piece is a monolithic block of weathered wood inside and out, clad in 4″ horizontal shiplap. The lantern ends dematerialise by eliminating the 1″ channel joints.
The fenestration of the ‘binocular’ ends is minimalist curtain wall with structural silicone. The side elevations contain storefront glazing. The concrete floors contain a geothermally heated hydronic system.
This sculptural, yet calm and mature project contains generous white volumes on the interior, and exhibits the ironic monumentality of boats on the exterior.
Photos: Greg Richardson Photography
Market is a two-storey penthouse loft designed by Rad Design Inc., situated in an old historic building built in 1858 that was once a wholesale grocery warehouse along the waterfront of downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When designer Golbou Rad first entered this loft, green and red walls are what greeted her, along with dim lighting from the lack of large windows as well as dilapidated interior finishes and old appliances. The re-design of the two-level, 1,200 square foot space begun with a fresh coat of white paint to brighten up the space for the young professional clients. The designer selected subtle materials and finishes in the loft, being careful not to take away from the well-worn texture and colors of the exposed brick.
Bright colored cabinetry and walls lightened up the space and allowed the wood structure and exposed ducts and piping to stand out, which emphasized the industrial character of the building and gave the loft a raw appeal.
The clients both have sailing backgrounds, and wished to add some of their own decor to the design, such as the ship’s wheel displayed on the exposed brick wall.
An antique lighthouse lantern anchors a bedside table vignette, adding another nautical touch to the room.
The new sliding barn doors allow enough space for the drawers of the new vanity to open with ease.
Prior to Renovation:
Photos: Courtesy of Rad Design Inc.
Contrast House is situated on a corner lot in a dense neighborhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, designed by Dubbeldam Architecture + Design. The intent of the remaking of this narrow 125-year-old residence was two-fold: to increase natural light in the interior using contrast, and to reduce the house’s ecological impact. An increase of natural light is accomplished through both physical and perceptual means. Physically, the long, narrow house – only 11 feet wide on the rear facade – was reconfigured to allow direct sight lines to new window openings. Perceptually, contrast was used as a means to “brighten” internal spaces without direct access to natural light. Contrasting elements are placed in proximity to produce an intensified effect. At each level, the stair is punctuated by a black element to define space — be it floating bookcases housing the owner’s collectibles, or a chalk board wall for play — and to create contrast to visually intensify the natural light spilling down from above.
The monochromatic palette — walnut floors, white and dark gray walls — highlights the house’s architectural forms and lines, but is animated by the family’s collection of colorful furniture, art, books, and toys. The tonalities and concept flows from inside to out. Clad in black-stained cedar vertical boards soaring upward to conceal the modest roof deck behind, the exterior is a bold counterpoint to the red brick Victorian dwelling to which it is attached. Many passive sustainable systems are employed to minimize environmental impact. The reconfigured layout, location of the stair and new operable windows maximize natural ventilation, stack effect, and daylighting, reducing the need for both air conditioning and artificial lighting. Integrated with the roof deck, a green roof absorbs rainwater and provides a cooling effect for the upper floors, further reducing the dependency on utilities.
Toronto Residence was designed by Belzberg Architects on a large double lot in a premier neighborhood in north Toronto, Ontario, Canada, completed in 2012. The project’s ambition is split between providing a space that can take advantage of the site’s abundant natural features and also serve as a hub for a growing international family. Large portions of glazing along with clean lines and simple volumetric proportions underscore the client’s interest in creating a space with an effortless flow between interior and exterior; in a climate that is not always conducive to this type of habitation.
The interior layout of the 10,000 square foot house has been carefully crafted to provide an informal and inviting space with an understated sophistication. The architecture and landscape design at the front of the building have been choreographed to allow for an abundance of natural light and a feeling of airiness without sacrificing privacy. A simple, yet enduring material palette blends plaster and zinc cladding with various natural woods and stones. This striking modern property has received an Honoree Best of the Year Award in 2012 from Interior Design Magazine.
Photos: Courtesy of Belzberg Architects
Zen Barn was designed by Christopher Simmonds Architect in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The four bedroom, four bathroom, 3,100 square foot house features a rustic reclaimed wood exterior and minimalist design. Rich textures inside and out adds warmth to the modern look, and natural light penetrates the house from all angles. The stairwell, courtyard and second-floor deck above the dining area all let the interior space feel interconnected to the outdoors.
Heated exposed concrete floors ensure comfort in the presence of large glazed areas. Cabinetry in matte white lacquer and stained ash veneer flow through the interconnected kitchen, living and dining spaces. Century-old reclaimed white oak boards from southwestern Ontario clad the exterior volumes, as well as prefinished aluminum in some areas.
A variety of wood textures and tones gives the space a cozy character, contrasting with the white walls, ceiling and flooring.
The flooring is a lightweight concrete with an epoxy topping, an elegant low-maintenance choice that resists scuffs and shoe marks. This part of the house makes the most of the available natural light, even in the long Canadian winters.
“This house is as much about natural light and artistic, functional light as it is about the home’s design. Light moves through the structure and changes the space in response to the textures throughout the interior and exterior.”
Floating cabinets store items and add geometric interest. Book spines, a minimalist floral arrangement and the bell pendant give this part of the house a few unexpected doses of color.
Ash wood treads warm up the metal stairs.
Photos: Doublespace Photography
LG House was designed as a modernist design of simplicity, volume and restrained materials by architecture studio Thirdstone Inc. The concept of LG House was developed in response to the challenge of building a narrow 25’ x 140’ wide infill lot in an established Edmonton, Alberta, Canada city-core neighborhood. One of the architect’s primary goals was the development of a sensitive typology for urban consolidation.
This affordable modern house was designed as a two-storey in order to make best use of the narrow site. The transparency of the front facade encourages ‘eyes on the street’ and active engagement with neighbors while providing a sense of belonging to the community.
Comprised of main living spaces on the ground level, a narrow enclosed link containing a hallway, half-bath and rear closet, connects the main house to the single car garage off the back lane. This arrangement forms a ‘U’ configuration creating an intimate and private outdoor south-facing courtyard.
The Dining Room opens to the outdoors by way of a folding glass wall system. Both the Main level and the Courtyard are at the same finish grade for ease of accessibility and to effortlessly extend inside activities outdoors. Glass walls ensure excellent visibility to the front garden and rear enclosed courtyard.
To maintain affordability, materials incorporated in the project consisted of standard building materials which were applied in a unique manner. 4′x10’ fibre-cement panels were ‘ripped’ and installed using standard lap siding techniques. Cedar planks were used to highlight architectural details of the house and installed using ‘rain-screen’ principles. This resulted in a distinctive appearance yet it was accomplished using affordable ‘standard’ materials.
The second floor plan allows for space to be re-arranged to meet future needs of the family without expensive retrofits and renovations. This means a long term commitment, to the neighborhood and lasting investment in a family dwelling that will be appreciated for a lifetime.
While recognizing the potential to work with the solar angles and direction of prevailing breezes, the architects sought to take advantage of the narrowness of the structure by applying sustainable design strategies to minimize energy consumption through passive design. Rooms are able to capture sun light due to the design’s east-west orientation. Design considerations included working with solar angles, placement of windows, the direction of the prevailing breezes and cross and stack ventilation to maintain a comfortable natural indoor climate.
Photos: Merle Prosofsky
This stunning contemporary home was designed on Chilliwack Street in New Westminster, a suburb of Vancouver, Canada by Randy Bens Architect. The project brief was to add a new floor to an existing 1950’s split level home, which was originally designed by an architect. However, due to some unforeseen conditions, the existing house had to be removed. So the construction is all new, and the design retains hints of the old.
The existing house was too small for the family, so a new floor was added containing a master bedroom, en-suite bathroom, office and deck. The new upper floor cantilevers in two directions, and compliments the lower cantilevered portion of the house.
To soften the strong geometry of the house, clear stained cedar siding was used on all surfaces to give the composition scale and warmth. The inner face of each cube is lined with bluestone to provide contrast.
The house feels very spacious in relation to its actual size. There are three ceiling heights used throughout the house which create volume and a sense of openness. Careful window placement allows walls to be washed with light and views to be controlled.
The interior material palette is very simple – white walls, rift cut oak cabinetry, and bluestone floors (and patios). Bluestone is also featured as a cladding material around the base of the garage and at the insets of the front “boxes”.
Photos: Roger Brooks
This exclusive waterfront property listed with Jamie MacDougall for Sotheby’s Realty, is situated on Pender Harbour, a multi-inleted bay on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. This gated oasis spans over 21 acres with 1,000 feet of natural shoreline and offers total privacy and seclusion. The masterful architecture and luxury building materials make this a world-class living experience. Exposed architectural reinforced concrete walls are combined with Pennsylvania Blue Stone floors and Douglas Fir beams inside to create a delicate warmth to host an over 6,600 square feet of main residence with six fully en-suited bedrooms. Each bedroom enjoys total privacy, 180-degree breathtaking views and its own access outdoors. The grounds also host a 630 square foot boat house guest suite and a 1,240 square foot self-contained caretaker’s residence. Each of these spaces was mindfully designed to embrace the natural beauty surrounding this extraordinary property.
The open plan kitchen, living and dining room extend outside thru bi-fold doors to meld the indoor/outdoor ambience with a heated patio, fire pit and in ground hot tub at water’s edge. The exterior finish includes a mix of zinc and planted green roof with harvested cedar siding and stone veneer walls, carefully considered to blend with the West Coast environment and its spectacular elements. A sensational home with top of the line technical details: Crestron Smart Home, Geothermal heating and cooling and private water supply mark today’s standards. Residents enjoy this private oceanfront, a dock, boardwalk, sport court, a helipad and over 1 mile of manicured hiking and walking trails.
This architecturally significant and spectacularly engineered masterpiece is listed for sale at, $20,000,000, from here.
This two-story modern residence is situated on a wooded lot in Oakville, Ontario, Canada designed by architect Guido Costantino. This modern home is comprised of a monochromatic palate of stucco, concrete, brick, anodized siding and a mix of opaque and transparent glass.
The street-facing front of the residence limits views into the home, providing privacy through the use of frosted glass and an interior large two and a half story concrete wall. In contrast, the back exterior unpeels to the outside, providing expansive views onto the bucolic lot and allowing light to flood into the space.
Designed for a young family, who wanted a contemporary home where everyday life is not compartmentalized to specific spaces, the house plan flows freely, allowing areas to bleed into each other harmoniously. The challenge was to address the needs of the family, while maintaining the desire for an open plan. The L-shaped floor plan allows all spaces to receive maximum light, unobstructed views onto the wooded lot and into other areas of the house, while still providing private functional spaces.
Internally, the concrete floor steps down into the living space, where the steps wrap and fold to create a ledge for the hearth, which is anchored to a large 2 1/2 story unpolished concrete wall. The concrete wall slices through all floors vertically, as well as providing an anchor for the white metal skeleton stair.
Rather than being defined by walls, the spaces are nuanced through small level and/or material changes, such as a step-down into the living area or a shift from concrete to wood floor. The palate is restrained allowing for no visual breaks in keeping with the free-flowing space.
At the front of the house, large shifted concrete pads welcome you into the residence, transitioning internally into a polished concrete floor, which then slips back out to the exterior to form a long narrow concrete pool. The concrete defines circulation, leading you into the house and back out, but also internally acting as a threshold between the kitchen / dining room and the sunken living space.
Photos: Peter A. Sellar – Photographer