House Well is a renovation and addition to a previously one storey brick bungalow on the west end of Toronto. The project increased the area of the home by expanding vertically within the existing footprint to the maximum allowable height. Two separate volumes of differing internal heights were spanned under a new roof over the reconfigured ground floor creating varying spatial conditions. An open floor plan is achieved while still defining various distinct areas. Below the higher volume, the entry and living area is defined. A clerestory between the high set volume and the adjacent enclosed porch reinforces a sense of loftiness while opening the view to the sky and tree canopy out front while the porch shelters the house from the busy street. In contrast, the compressed space at the kitchen below the lower volume opens to the rear yard with large uninterrupted openings. The lower hanging taller upper volume houses the principal bedroom and ensuite bath that approximate the volume of the front living area. The higher set volume has a compressed section and efficient plan with two small bedrooms and a secondary bathroom that ‘nest’ at the top of the house.
A Well, or central gap is located between the two upper bedroom volumes that brings light in to the centre of the house’s floor plans at both levels. The well is open on either end with windows to the east and west. Shifting colour temperatures are measured and highlighted through the course of the day within the well and filtered to the ground level below. A diaphanous perforated metal staircase is suspended in the well between the two upper volumes. The changing course of the staircase, reinforced by material changes and the layout of interrupting walls and screens, suggest a labyrinth that reinforces differing perspectives within the single volume enlarging the experience of the compact 1300sf family home.
The brick exterior of the original home was retained along with the volume of the enclosed front porch. The east and west facades of the new upper storey are clad in reflective metal siding that react in sunlight or fuse with overcast skies. The north and south facades are clad in black shou sugi ban wood breaking down the volume of the home. An expanded metal screen shields the porch from the street and introduces the first of three solid volumes that define the porous living space behind.