House of Monitors

Work in Progress

The ethos of this project found inspiration in the day to day lives of the owners. First, a painter who works with landscapes and is guided by light and air. Requiring even, north light to work and elevation above the tree canopy to capture the view of Lake Ontario, her studio takes a prominent location on the upper floor of the house.

Her partner, a shoring contractor, is rooted to the earth in a very different way. Large scale elements of the construction industry, beams, piles, and yards of concrete are the raw materials that inspire his imagination.

Together, they find beauty in the tough and natural elements used to retain earth, while reinterpreting the natural landscape into abstract form with their sense of light and space.

Emerging from the ground as inhabitable shoring, two concrete volumes anchor the centre of the home. A double-height volume holds the audio room with an extensive record collection. The space captues southern light through a clerestory window and creates shadow play on the formed concrete walls. On the east side, the other volume opens on the second level to house the painting studio. A ceiling plane that curves to the north washes the room in even light.

On the north side, a concrete slab marks the entry. Inside, it holds support program on the ground level, then becomes a light receptor on the second floor; Baffles block and guide light from the skylight above and direct it into the north-facing rooms.

A fourth volume at the rear of the house defines the living room and master suite, breaking down to capture spectacular views of Lake Ontario. It defines the edge of an exterior courtyard that comes into the space of the house, creating a pocket of green and providing privacy between the bedroom and the second-floor living room and deck that will be used for entertaining, allowing everyone to share the unique view.

The second floor is lifted and held in place above the ground by the concrete towers. By breaking down the intersection of the volumes and the second-floor spaces, cross-views emerge with connections to the ground floor and the sky above. Light fills the house on both floors. These in-between spaces bridge between the volumes and define the remaining area of the home. Because the lifted volume allows for views through the tree canopy to Lake Ontario, the spaces are not exclusively private family spaces. A living room, painting studio for both creating and selling work, and large deck share the floor with the master suite and bedrooms and provide great space for entertaining.

Breaking down the concrete volumes creates a complex layering of spaces throughout the house. They are at times both volumetric and planar, participating in the movement of the sun throughout the day: Catching, reflecting, and diffusing the light as it comes into the home. Light is used to activate materials and create a textural experience throughout, becoming the third key material in the project.