Situated on a narrow lot in an older Toronto neighbourhood, the Skygarden House designed by Dubbeldam Architecture + Design provides outdoor living spaces on multiple levels to address the owners’ desire for a better connection to the home’s natural surroundings.
The owners used to spend their weekends at a home in the country, located next to a stream and surrounded by trees.
“Our clients wanted to emulate this bucolic experience in their urban home; they expressed a strong desire for a sustainable home connected to its natural surroundings”, said principal Heather Dubbeldam.
Although the new house is only 2,420 square feet, it feels much larger—its rooms expand beyond the interior of the house to a series of highly useable outdoor spaces that enrich the domestic experience, each with its own unique character and varying level of privacy. The rear yard is landscaped and features a generously scaled thermally treated ash wood deck, and a few steps down, another zone defined by granite pavers is planted with a row of honey locust trees that offer dappled light and shade in summer.
The plant material was selected to provide visual interest year round. Even the existing porch at the front of the house is remade into a private outdoor dining room enclosed by a five-foot-high wood screen, extending the private realm into the public arena. On the third floor, two significant outdoor spaces provide green respite. An exposed roof deck at the back of the house has plentiful views over the neighbourhood and into the extensive green canopy surrounding the house.
At the front of the house, half of the master bedroom is given over to an intimate exterior space clad in the warm ash, with a recessed planter and an opening carved into the roof for natural light, access to rainwater and ample views of green. Intimately connected to the master suite, this “skygarden” functions as a unique outdoor room, open to the sky, sun, wind and stars.
Working with the existing footprint of a century-old fully detached house in the city’s midtown neighbourhood, only the two side exterior walls of the original building were retained. Referencing the traditional domestic scale and form of its neighbours, the Skygarden House presents a fresh and graphic interpretation of the traditional pitched roof with a sublimely clean elevation. Planes of floor-to-ceiling glass, comprised of a combination of windows, doors and spandrel panels, frame views to the exterior, bringing natural light and the experience of the changing seasons into the interior; they imbue each of the rooms in the house with a unique spatial quality; and they create ever-important access to outdoor spaces on both lower and upper levels.