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New Home #1

The Project: Home on a rural Ontario hillside

The Story...

The design considers natural light, sunlight, solar shading, natural ventilation, views, surface water collection, and economy.

The hillside home faces south towards a pastoral Ontario countryside view. The roofline follows the slope of the hill, minimizing heat gain from the south and opening up to the forested hillside on the north. The south deck is located to the side, so that the view from inside is unobstructed and allowing sunlight into the lower level. Below the deck is a screened porch for those muggy, buggy summer evenings. A long narrow deck on the entry side recalls the welcoming covered porch of vernacular Ontario rural and town homes.

Designed for a middle-aged couple with married children and expecting lots of grandchildren, the upper floor includes the principle room functions as well as the master bedroom, while the lower floor functions as guest accommodation.

Although unnecessary now, long-term livability was an important consideration. The upper entry level is designed to be barrier-free, with level access from the garage into the entry, wide doorways, and an accessible ensuite.

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New Home #2

The Project: New 4-season cottage (Construction 2014-15)

The Story...

The design locates a weekend home on a steep slope with a dramatic view of a Northern Ontario lake. The main floor includes all the common living spaces plus the Master Bedroom, allowing for the convenience of single-floor living. Guest rooms are on the Upper and the Lower levels. A generous screened porch with a stone fireplace sits at the Lower level grade, and a cantilevered screened “tree house” porch projects off the Great Room. The Master Bedroom wing includes a private porch. The house has exceptional insulation and windows, as well as in-floor heating and natural ventilation. The exterior finishes are designed to resist the ravages of weather, time, and squirrels.

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New Home #3

The Project: Home on Ontario farmland

The Story...

The clients asked for a new rural home that would fit respectfully into the southern Ontario landscape without resorting to replicating traditional styles. The house is part of a working farm.

The large rural property lies north-east of Toronto. The plan is divided into 4 principal "blocks".

  • A small ground floor Home Office and second floor Guest Suite are near the front entrance. The arrangement provides convenient separation of the work and home activities.
  • A dramatic Great Room block with high ceilings and windows facing north and south is separated from the pool terrace by a long "Galleria".
  • The more private two-storey Family block contains the Kitchen, Family Room, and Bedrooms.
  • The Mudroom and Garage block sits down a half level, allowing views over the roofline from the main house and easy access to the full basement.

The plan allows for a variety of outdoor spaces, and passive solar control. The heating is provided by a ground-source heat pump.

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New Home #4

The Project: Two single-family homes on adjacent properties in an established traditional Toronto neighbourhood.

The Story...

The client initially wanted to just replace their existing house, but quickly realized that buying and also replacing the next door house would make the overall project less expensive and the street appearance more attractive. It turned out that the neighbour was eager to sell, and so the project became part owner-occupy, and part speculative.

The two homes share a design that was determined in large part by the sloping site and carefully calibrated vertical dimensions required to meet City of Toronto zoning requirements. The two homes share a material language but are still visually unique.

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New Home #5

The Project: 8000 square foot home on a 100 acre rural property.

The Story...

The house sits on a prominent hilltop location surrounded by Ontario countryside. The clients imagined a grand lodge built with timeless materials as well as modern technology.

The design of the house includes a small tower (with home office) that has a spectacular 360 degree view, a generous terrace for expanding the living spaces to the outdoors, a guest suite, a collector's car garage, and an “infinity edge” pool.

The house is constructed with a high-performance “Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)” walls on the lower level, and super-insulating walls on the upper level. Solid Douglas Fir windows have high-performance glazing. Broad roof overhangs block summer sun, but allow in winter sun. In-floor radiant heating from a ground source heat pump provide gentle and quiet heating.

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New Home #6

The Project: New home on Algonquin Island in Toronto Harbour.

The Story...

The property had been in the family for many years with an original cottage that was rotting away. When the client decided to move permanently to Toronto Island, they decided to build a new home. The design takes advantage of one of the best views of the city skyline, and fits into the established character of the Island homes.

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New Home #7

The Project: New home on a North Toronto property.

The Story...

The design brief called for an Arts and Craft style home to be built on a 40-foot wide lot with below grade parking. This project was followed through construction by a TV crew and presented on the HGTV as part of “Real Renos” with Jim Caruk.

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New Home #8

The Project: Low-cost Rural home.

The Story...

The clients (a young couple who board horses and dogs) were interested in building with natural and economical materials, avoiding connection to the power grid, and keeping energy costs to a minimum.

Straw bale technology was chosen for its high thermal resistance properties and perceived lower cost. The house was shaped to capture heat from the sun, warming carefully located thermal mass. Sun control and natural ventilation would keep the home cool in the summer. A photovoltaic cell array provided normal voltage power to standard appliance and lighting, eliminating need for a connection to the power grid.

The house was ultimately built without straw bale walls, connected to the grid, and with the plan revised to reduce construction challenges. The owners report however that the house still uses very little energy to heat.

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New Home #9

The Project: Two contemporary urban homes

The Story...

The clients had hoped to renovate and add to their existing home in the High Park area. They also owned the adjacent house. A quick design and costing study suggested that two new homes would be less expensive and more suited to their lifestyle.

In order to test the feasibility of building the two houses, a full design proposal was prepared that was used to more accurately budget the construction cost, obtain marketing opinion from real estate agents, and to apply for zoning review.

The new design required the removal of a single mature white oak that was very close to the back walls of the existing houses. It became apparent late in the design phase that there was going to be significant neighbourhood objection to the loss of the tree. At that point the clients decided not to proceed with the project.

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