Winnett House

Toronto, Ontario

This three-bedroom single-family residence brought new construction of an open concept to a challenging urban site. The 24 ft. centrally-located, double-height home brings in natural light, casting dramatic shadows throughout the day while acting as a “lantern” at night.

When the home is viewed from the street, the living room projects forward while the adjoining bedrooms frame the interior stair core from behind. This staircase is the highest form in the structure and is centrally located in the plan. Its clerestory windows draw natural light into the home and vent stale air out.

Generous overhangs keep the hot summer sun out of the home, while allowing winter sun in. Expansive black-framed operable windows, white roof plans, and charcoal-colored wood siding and brick express the subtle minimalism of the home. A light-well also serves to provide natural stack ventilation, permitting interior air to be exhausted at the clerestory level above.

The open kitchen faces the sheltered dining room, which is a few steps up giving it a more intimate ceiling height than the rest of the ground floor. The dining room overlooks the back garden and deck, and a narrow window perfectly frames the existing side-yard tree. The soft grey room encloses a six-person dining table, and the low ceiling height makes it a comfortable environment to share a meal.

Upholstered seating and a hanging fabric lamp add texture and softness to the space. The master bathroom incorporates a bathtub and a clear shower stall that is reflected in the mirror above his-and-her twin sinks. The expansive mirror, glass shower and large operable window make the room feel bright and open.


  • Program and spatial optimization
  • Integration with the natural assets of the site and terrain
  • Natural ventilation
  • Natural daylighting
  • High-performance envelope design
  • Material optimization and modular design
  • Renewable materials and finishes
  • Non-toxic materials and finishes

The design uses an open ground floor with kitchen island, breakfast table and double doors to the back patio. The dark wood gives natural warmth and richness to the stark white interior. Details such as hanging glass pendants, stainless steel faucets and unique hardware are carefully selected as sculptural elements.