Transformation of a 110-year-old house into a contemporary home in Toronto, Canada
“The four level residence is one of the few houses in Toronto designed to minimize the carbon footprint, and its specific use of materials and finishes reduces future maintenance as well as supports the sustainable approach even further. Even though it is built to sell in a market just about to become aware of sustainability and its benefits for both the city as well as the homeowner, baukultur/ca took the opportunity and, at the same time, the risk to construct a home that not only enhance the immediate environment but also would establish new standards in design and energy efficient green building.
“We see our project also as an opportunity to showcase the possibilities of sustainable modern residential design to the neighbourhood and the city,” states Felix Leicher, German Architect and owner of baukultur/ca.
Located on a leafy street near shops, restaurants, schools and parks, this open concept home uses passive sustainable design including passive cooling, compact building volume, natural light, high performance building envelope with white reflective siding and roofing, in combination with smart technologies to not only minimize energy consumption and maintenance over the building’s lifespan, but also to optimize indoor air quality and the future owners’ wellbeing.
Contemporary structure harmonizes with established neighbourhood German architect Felix Leicher absorbed the genus loci to create a contemporary structure deeply embedded in its context. The borders between roof and walls are blurred; this creates a sculptural structure of asymmetrical slanted and vertical planes that leave the well-known perception behind while keeping the house’s connection to its surroundings. By respectfully exploring existing building structures, shapes and materials in the surrounding area, the design finds ways to reinvent the existing with its own aesthetics to create a common language and understanding while developing a completely new sculptural appearance for the home.
The side walls and roof planes are cladded in precise, white metal panels and provide shelter to a natural but specifically defined wooden cocoon housing the liveable space – protecting it from the exterior elements. Deep grooves structure the white sidewalls rhythmically vivifying the surface while the walls and roof frame the wooden facades in the front and rear of the building. Both front and rear are moulded from thermally modified wooden planks cladded to the substructure with open joints providing another layer and depth to the house. While the front explores the existing configurations of bay window and front porch to recreate both newly with an asymmetrical spin to compliment the shifted geometrical appearance from the street, the back surprises with an addition cladded in standing seam copper.
The interior develops on the main floor as one open space composed out of singular areas of living, well connected and overlapping, thus creating an almost intertwined continuous space where each function has its own place without being separated or detached from the rest of the house or the exterior. The main floor flows seamlessly from the entry into the living room and through the dining room with the kitchen into the family room in the back of the house, yet never detracts from the specific function of each area. Towards the rear of the building, the borders between interior and exterior living space blur into each other, the inside extending onto the vast exterior deck and west-facing garden.
The choice of interior finishes is bright and clean. The predominant colour is white. White walls and ceilings, white washed solid oak floors and white trim, with the occasional quotation of the materials used on the exterior: thermally treated wood and copper and black detailing, enrich the clean modern look and connect the interior to the exterior.”