Nestled amidst handsome Edwardian, Tudor and Georgian Revival Style houses in Toronto’s picturesque South Hill Neighborhood, Stone house offers a quiet surprise. Two shifting and irregularly shaped solid blocks, one cantilevered above the other create a dynamic balance in a house that was designed to provide both privacy and openness at once. The sculptural quality of the exterior is defined by an upper volume wrapped in a uniform limestone cladding from which deeply recessed voids are extracted and then stacked upon a shifting lower volume. Through a rigorous integration of architecture and structure, the modestly scaled street presence of the house opens upon entry to 7000 square feet of interior living space for a family of five.
Upon entering the house, a suspended stair floats within a double height gallery-like foyer. Lit by a large skylight above, the oak stair and leathered grey limestone floor are bathed in the ever changing light. Beyond the foyer, the main floor is a play in volumes and sectional difference. Rift cut white oak floor boards lead from the entry to the formal dining room, step down into the sunken living room and up to the open kitchen and breakfast area. Throughout the house, an abundance of storage is discreetly concealed behind wall panels integrated with custom millwork and flush doors which allow the expansive interior to be free of visible support.
Natural light is drawn into the main living spaces through the rear, west facing glass facade. Framing views of the yard, floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors visually extend the open living space into the privacy of the garden. Stone soffits cantilever over the windows while a limestone clad wall slips back into the house creating a feature wall in the living room. Here, a hot rolled steel fireplace surround and large sliding steel panel conceal an entertainment system behind.
Throughout the upper level of the house, deeply recessed windows provide sunshade and prevent solar heat gain. Windows are located to draw natural light into the deep floor plate. Passive ventilation is provided by access to operable windows and, high performance, laminated windows were used to reduce solar heat gain. The exterior patio is of local Algonquin limestone. Hydronic radiant in-floor heat, with engineered floors, is located on the interior of the home. Custom millwork, composed of renewable woods with natural oil finishes and nominal adhesives, is integrated throughout the interior of the home.
The deep sills and stone soffits emphasize the suggestion of mass on the exterior while enabling privacy on the interior. Stone panels on the facades and underside of soffits meet with mitred corners, hung with a sophisticated clipping system. The continuity of stone on the horizontal surfaces heightens the notion of solidity where large expanses of recessed glass openings create voids. At night, the density of Stone House dissolves as its continuous bands of windows glow from within.
Stone House is an essay in elegance. Minimal materials used on both the interior and the exterior are animated by the dappling of natural light and shadow. Through a thoughtful composition of space and volume, a calm and clean interior is cleverly achieved. The conceptual clarity of Stone House is accomplished through finely crafted detailing, technical experimentation and innovation.