Located in Torontoʼs Bloor West Village neighbourhood the Hewitt Avenue House was conceived as an urban home that places a bold emphasis on natural materials, sustainable design and contemporary living. The home was constructed on the site of an existing home typical of Torontoʼs older neighbourhoods and just steps from Bloor Street. While renovation was considered, rebuilding was the most cost effective way to achieve the project goals to create free flowing open plan spaces with natural daylighting, ventilation and a high performance envelope.
Wood is an important element to the exterior skin and is used to define the overall massing and houseʼs relationship to the wider streetscape. Brick is first used to ground the building in place as a denser material that harmonizes with the existing character of the street, while the lighter wood introduces a new material that wraps the front entry and extends upwards to envelop the bedroom on the second floor. Spanish Cedar is selected as the main cladding material as it naturally creates a warm and inviting entrance to the house that is also durable and strong. Though the interior spaces are kept crisp and clean, wood is used on the windows, stairs and millwork to provide a richness and warmth in its contemporary design. In this way, wood is not used quietly in the background but is used to make a strong statement about the function and purpose of each space and is used to define the flows of circulation throughout the house. Wood is also used throughout to support the structure and its workability and versatility makes it easily compatible with other structural systems. Wood is also used as an environmentally responsive design as a highly sustainable, renewable and durable material with low embodied energy. The stewardship of water is also considered in the design through green roof systems that help mitigate stormwater runoff, landscaping that requires minimal irrigation and rainwater collection and reuse. Conservation is considered in the selection of efficient appliances and fixtures and is an important energy resource in a wastewater heat recovery system.
This design implements a passive gain and solar mass strategy that takes advantage of the sunʼs daily passage and the movement of air in different seasons. In summer, the balcony on the second floor limits heat gain to the media room below, while operable windows are orientated at the north and south ends of the building to take advantage of natural ventilation. In winter the sun is able to penetrate the building and heats up the concrete flooring to take advantage of its thermal mass. Two main vertical cavities (above the dining table and above the stair) are also used to circulate light year round and air in the summer to naturally ventilate the spaces utilizing the stack effect to vent hot, stale air above and draw cool, fresh air in. Electrical loads have been carefully managed and are minimized through the use of energy efficient appliances and LED and compact fluorescent lighting. These passive strategies reduce energy loads and augment comfort so that the demands on the mechanical system are minimized.
Location: Toronto, Canada Architect: Altius Architecture Inc.