wooden staircase and skylight
location: toronto, ontario
The house was designed for a client with a penchant for modern art and architecture. Located in Toronto’s Bedford Park neighbourhood, the house replaces a simple, neglected bungalow from the 1940’s.
The neighbourhood is full of examples of hybrid house renovations - eclectic pieces that incorporate both modern and traditional with elements such as hybrid Victorian pitched, or mansard roofs mixed with flat roofs to increase building height in order to maximize the zoning potential of the property.
Unlike the surrounding neighbours, the house was designed to be unapologetically modern. Straight lines and architectural elements designed as boxes of wood, glass and steel create the modern architectural composition of the exterior. The entire dining and family room suite is expressed externally as a glass box wrapped in a timber frame. The second floor seems like an elegant limestone volume that sits politely over the timber box below.
Limestone louvre screens on the exterior provide select zones of privacy, also framing the arrival and entrance in a way reminiscent of art galleries with their grand entrances wrapped in stone. Large Amisol lighting discs of aluminum and acrylic sail high above the double height entry and signal arrival into a residence guided by art.
The ground plan is fully open and is organized around two 4’ wide east-west breezeways that straddle the central timber staircase at the heart of the house. The breezeways are framed at both ends with full height glass walls 4’ in widths that define the corridors and offer a view or light at each end. Walking along the breezeways offers a sense lightness and orientation. The central stair is clad in rift cut white oak and winds down three stories. Four large skylights above the staircase flood all three floors of the house with natural light and wash a large, latticed custom designed oak screen that catches light from above and hints of Asian art screens and installations. The house boasts a double basement including a golf simulator, wine cellar, and gallery below the main gym/family room basement.
Time-honoured materials like Indiana and Eramosa limestones exude a richness and depth in the design. These natural stones also act as feature pieces of the interior with the flurried Eramosa flowing from the steps and exterior porch inside the house and up the entrance steps. Large slabs of Indiana limestone clad the interior fireplaces and connect the interior and building exterior. Open white walls boast an international art collection compiled over decades with art from artists in Milan, Rome, Berlin, Hong Kong and China.