The suburban Toronto site, while generous in proportion is perfectly flat. The traces of its rich natural history are no longer evident. The intent of the design was to re-introduce place to the land.
The clients sought a design that would provide them with a sense of a “cottage in the city”. This did not mean a faux expression of a family cabin— but rather a cottage in a conceptual way: a feeling of warmth, reflection and family.
Dove was conceived as a series of interconnected pavilions in the landscape, rather than rooms filling out a shell. Each space is independently situated and connected to multiple routes, so that each main room becomes a destination. The project celebrates the paths between spaces as much as the rooms themselves. The experience of moving through the project was envisioned as a walk-through Ontario woods— gently up over logs, with low canopies dramatically sweeping to towering heights, squeezing through rock canyons, passing water streams... all lit from unusual places.
The house is distinguished by its deeply ridged cast-in-place concrete — serving as both structural support and the finished texture within. The surface of the concrete carries the grain of the rough wood boards used to form it, giving a rich tactile character and expressing the memory of its making. The folded main roof, faced with white birch on the interior and weathering steel on its exterior skin, rises gently through the spaces, cradling the interior like a tent.
The building was designed to be rigorous in its performance: it makes use of ground-source heating and cooling, it generates electrical power from an extensive solar photovoltaic array, and it draws irrigation water from a well on site. The thermal design of the building’s envelope was carefully engineered out-performing the standards set by the building code.