Counterpoint House in Toronto

Counterpoint House, Toronto Building, Project, Images Design, Property

Counterpoint House

Canadian Residential Development – design by Paul Raff Studio

10 Nov 2015

Counterpoint House in Toronto

Design: Paul Raff Studio Architects

Location: Toronto, Canada

Situated on a narrow lot in a leafy neighborhood, Counterpoint House is a lofty, light-filled home for a family of four.

Counterpoint House

Front facade dusk. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

Counterpoint House

Front facade detail. image: Steve Tsai

After immigrating to Toronto from Europe, the family searched extensively, but could not find a house they wanted to live in.

Counterpoint House

Kitchen looking north. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

They then engaged the architect Paul Raff, and discussed their wish list: open, interconnected living spaces with a strong sense of connection to the garden, trees, and sky. The clients wanted a home that would seamlessly enhance a family’s experience of working, studying, playing music, cooking and dining together.

Counterpoint House

Kitchen looking into living room. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

Their desire for a home designed for family life resulted in the compact and tailored form of Counterpoint House. Its function and flow facilitate the many family-oriented endeavours the clients sought. At the same time, the unusual split level stepping of its upper floors and bold window openings create a feeling of expansive spaciousness.

Counterpoint House

Kitchen looking south. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

Natural light is one of the main drivers of the design. The upper levels of the house are set back from the street face of the building allowing a large south-facing clerestory window to flood the middle of the house with sunlight.

Counterpoint House

Living room. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

The south face of the house also features a sculptural grace note and architectural device: a solar reflector screen on the front façade made up of 220 “light shelves.” The aluminum light shelves are horizontal slats which have a high coefficient of reflectivity. Their highly polished top surfaces bounce sunlight deep into the space. It imbues the interior with a glow and a dynamic pattern of shadows and reflections that shift across the space over the course of the hours and seasons. In the two children’s bedrooms on the top floor, the screen provides privacy from the street. From the exterior, it becomes a refractive silky fabric veil to the second floor façade.

Counterpoint House

Master bathroom. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

“South light in a northern climate is wonderful for helping heat the house in winter, but can create too high a glare to be comfortable,” says architect Paul Raff. “The solar reflector screen solves that, while creating a dynamic play of delicate shadows, which to me is the visual equivalent of harp music.”

Counterpoint House

Office desk with rug. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

Counterpoint House

Office looking out with rug. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

With south facing basement windows, and a view of the front garden, the lower level offers a lightfilled comfortable get-away for the many family members who often visit from abroad. They have their own kitchenette, two bedrooms and washroom to call their home away from home.

Counterpoint House

Screen from interior. image: Steve Tsai

Counterpoint House

Shadow from screen. image: Steve Tsai

Passive solar and passive ventilation design principles combine with a high-performance building envelope (composed of SIPS: structurally insulated panel system). This results in a small footprint, low impact building. Wherever possible, the architect and owner deployed local and non-toxic building materials.

Counterpoint House

Children’s bedroom. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

Wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling glazing on the ground floor frame a view into the shade garden on the north side of the house. A clerestory window on the upper level illuminates the staircase and master bedroom with soft northern light.

Counterpoint House

Dining room looking north. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

The daylight strategy helps produce a house that is comfortable, beautiful, energy efficient, and which the owners describe as “uplifting.” After moving in, the owners cancelled their first vacation travel plans because they simply wanted to be in their new home. Designed to accommodate a future installation of an elevator, the owners plan to live there well into their dotage. Their wish list was more than fulfilled.

Counterpoint House

Master bedroom. image: Ben Rahn/A-Framespan

With its unique form, natural light and view, Counterpoint House creates a bold, fresh architectural expression. The house respects the scale and character of the century old neighborhood while still presenting a strong, modern statement with perfect, handsome proportions.

Counterpoint House

Front facade detail. image: Steve Tsai

Counterpoint House – Building Information

Location: Toronto, Canada
Property Area: 404 sq m (4344 sq ft)
Total House Size: 356 sq m (3,837 sq ft) including basement
232 sq m (2,500 sq ft) not including basement
Completion: 2014

Project Team: Paul Raff, Samantha Scroggie, Sean Solowski, Scott Barker, Ladan Sharifpour
Architecture: Paul Raff Studio
Interior Design: Paul Raff Studio
Structural Engineers: Neumann Associates Limited
Mechanical Engineers: Bowser Technical Inc.
General Contractor: Severn Woods

Special Design Features
Lot width to the midpoint of shared driveway: 9.75 m (32’ – 9”)
Buildable lot width: 7.6 m (24’ – 11”)
Ceiling height on ground floor: 2.6 m (8’ – 6”) entry and den, 4.6 m (15’ – 11”) living, 3.3 m
(11’ – 1”) kitchen & dining
Primary Structure: SIPS (Structural Insulated Panel System)
Type of stone for façade: Vicenza Flamed Basalt
Flooring: Walnut, Loire Limestone
Solar Reflector Screen: 220 aluminum “light shelves”

Counterpoint House

Front facade noon. image: Steve Tsai

Counterpoint House in Toronto images / information from Paul Raff Studio Architect

Paul Raff Studio

Location:Toronto




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Counterpoint House in Toronto Building

Website: Paul Raff Studio Architects