Forest Hill House

Toronto, Ontario

Located in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood, the design for this 2,750 sq. ft., three-storey home was a response to the clients’ desire to create a comfortable, sustainable home for their growing family, unified within the unique conditions of the site.

The building was conceived of as two nesting shells: one heavy (situated closer to the street), and one light (facing the backyard). The outer heavy shell, clad in brick, provides a sense of shelter and privacy. The inner light shell, clad in wood, is generously perforated with windows and opens itself up to the lush, east-facing backyard. Between each of the two shells, sunlight is able to infiltrate deep into the house through a series of skylights along the northern and southern walls.

Outdoor living is generously provided on all three levels, with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors creating a seamlessness between exterior and interior spaces. A green roof elevates the back garden up to the third-floor roof terrace level, while the view over its leafy cover melts into the treetops of the backyard.

Large sliding doors on the third floor allow the building to ventilate naturally by drawing cool air through the windows on the lower levels, and up the open triple-height stairwell. Polished concrete floors on the main level act as a thermal mass, absorbing the morning sun through the expansive east-facing windows and moderating the building’s temperature throughout the day. An in-floor radiant heating system delivers even, comfortable heat throughout all levels of the house.

“We want to make sure that the modern houses we design won’t have a negative impact on the neighbourhood.”

“Building Modern, Smarter, Smaller”, The Globe and Mail


  • Program and spatial optimization
  • Integration with the natural assets of site and terrain
  • Site-specific view and vista optimization
  • Passive solar heating (thermal storage mass)
  • Natural ventilation and passive cooling
  • Natural daylighting
  • High-performance envelope design
  • Renewable and/or recyclable materials and finishes
  • Green roof systems
  • Indoor air quality (IAQ) and non-toxic materials and finishes
  • Radiant heating
  • Heat recovery ventilation
  • Solar electric (photovoltaic or PV systems)
  • Low energy lighting and appliances (LED, CFL lighting and ENERGY STAR appliances)
  • Water conserving appliances and fixtures (low flow/dual flush toilets)