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What Remains to be Seen

Location: Toronto, Ont.
Architect: Superkül Inc.
OAA Design Excellence Awards Finalist

This house for two professionals in the Old Mill neighbourhood northwest of downtown Toronto is a nuanced response to a design brief specifying a one-bedroom home that prioritizes the display of the clients’ extensive contemporary art collection. An extremely refined exterior material palette is matched by the home’s dramatic interior spatial qualities, most apparent in the soaring double-height gallery atrium, naturally lit from a series of skylights forming the striking saw-tooth roof profile above. 
The clients’ very specific objectives for optimizing the display of their art collection required a great deal of care and attention to the design of the home. Indirect light filters into the soaring two-storey gallery atrium from three east-facing skylights, reflecting off the matte white walls all the way down to ground level, softly illuminating the interior core of the home and the artworks within and minimizing the risk of UV damage. Carved-out volumes in the home include a sunken courtyard and a smoking porch, providing access to fresh air, additional outdoor living space, and engagement with the natural world.
While a modern insertion in its neighbourhood, the house respects the scale and massing of its ravine context, where original homes date back to the early- to mid-20th century. The use of pale concrete masonry is a modern interpretation of the brick cladding found in most of the surrounding houses. Its articulation as a quiet, spare, and elegant structure welcomes the neighbourhood in through its openness and transparency—large expanses of glazing, a generously scaled outdoor smoking porch that overlooks the street, and masterfully landscaped front and back gardens beckon with colour and lush vegetation.
The clients desired a strong connection to site and landscape, to maximize the salubrious effects of fresh air, daylight, and the natural world. Skylights and large expanses of triple-glazed operable windows reduce reliance on artificial lighting while improving air quality and circulation through passive ventilation, thereby reducing the need for air conditioning. A white exterior material palette, paired with a reflective white roof membrane, reduces heat gain in summer. The predicted energy consumption is 21 per cent less than the minimum specified by the Ontario Building Code, with a predicted greenhouse gas reduction of 1.9 tonnes per year less than “code minimum.”

Image Credit: Ben Rahn I A-Frame 

Image Credit: Ben Rahn I A-Frame

Image Credit: Ben Rahn I A-Frame
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