Garden Circle House

A dramatic sweeping staircase draws light, warmth and ambiance into all corners of this tactile and welcoming home.

This residence for a family of four in a midtown Toronto neighbourhood inhabits a compact lot on a cul-de-sac. In response to the client brief for a home that was naturally-inspired, sustainable, and filled with natural light, the design draws upon biophilic design strategies. Biophilic design incorporates natural materials, natural light, views of nature and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment. On the house’s exterior, green roofs are integrated into each of the overlapping roof planes on the front and back of the house, while beneath, their soffits are detailed with Brazilian massaranduba.

Upon entry into the house, a direct view to the backyard is provided through a tall narrow window on axis. Looking back toward the front entry, a double height space showcases dramatic light from the tall windows and abstracted shadows from the unique light fixtures overhead. Though not divided into specific rooms, partitions and millwork on the ground floor provide spatial definition and privacy in an open plan allowing for connectively between spaces and views throughout. Views are primarily oriented to the rear of the house with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, connecting interior and exterior spaces. In the backyard, a robust landscape strategy integrates a hard-wearing Cumaru deck that steps down to a lap pool. A focal point of the interior space is a curved central staircase that seduces with its curvilinear lines, open risers and a solid mahogany balustrade and handrail. The stairs’ switchback configuration allows for a horizontal window in the curved landing wall, offering a glimpse into the hidden ground-floor study and pantry. Light pours down from a large operable skylight overhead and transforms the staircase into a dramatic vertical spatial axis that counterbalances the horizontal quality of the home.

Complementing the biophilic design strategy for Garden Circle House is the prioritization of sustainability initiatives such as: radiant in-floor heating, efficient high-velocity cooling, thermally superior wall assemblies, operable windows and skylights for natural ventilation and daylighting, LED light fixtures, low flow plumbing fixtures, and durable, hard-wearing and low-VOC materials.

  • International Design Awards
    Honourable Mention
  • Architecture MasterPrize
    Honourable Mention

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