Situated on a narrow lot in a midtown Toronto neighbourhood, Skygarden House 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 their country home, located next to a stream and nestled amongst the trees, so they wanted their new home in the city to mimic this bucolic experience in an urban environment.
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. A few steps down is another zone, defined by granite pavers, and planted with a row of honey locust trees that offer dappled light and shade in summer. Even the existing porch at the front of the house is an extension of the indoor living space, 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 unique outdoor spaces provide green respite. An exposed roof deck at the back of the house offers 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 warm ash planks, 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, 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, and create ever-important visual and physical access to outdoor spaces on both lower and upper levels.