Batay-Csorba Architects

Batay-Csorba Architects

Toronto, ON, CA


High Park Residence

The 3,500sf residence is born from the homeowners’ Italian heritage, transporting them into another time and place, full of stories, meaning and memories. The house explores the vault as a common archetype found in ancient Roman architecture. Used as a catalyzing element, a barrel vault runs through the entirety of the house, puncturing, cutting, and peeling it into new geometries that help to distribute light and air into key locations, respond to program organization, delineate interior spaces, and creating a sectional continuity throughout the house.

Throughout the length of the ground floor, the barrel vault’s persistent geometry connects the living spaces, accentuating the client’s desire for connectivity in food preparation, eating and socializing. While the barrel vault brings these spaces together, moments of articulation and relief are found through tangential peels and cuts in the vaulted ceiling. The vault remains intact at the dining room, is cut at the length of the kitchen, becomes intact again at the living room, and then unfolds and peels into the backyard. This spatially delineates connected spaces, while also providing natural light and ventilation to flood into the deep and narrow lot.

The monolithic façade is created through a focus on the rich materiality of the brick coursing, and the isolated dormer which mirrors the proportions of the neighbouring house. The brickwork that covers the façade and wraps the ceiling and walls of the carport plays into Toronto’s history of masonry detailing. The tradition of brick in Toronto’s residential fabric dates to the 19th century when Toronto’s stock of Victorian houses were built. In these houses, ornamental detail presents itself in single isolated moments of brick coursing located above apertures, along corners and at cornices. We took this singular moment of ornamentation and blew it up. The front of the home is reduced to a monolithic façade – where a single repetitive material ornamentation, an adaptation of the Flemish-bond, become an even but textured brick field placing emphasis on the vaulted profile.  This field of patterning emphasizes a play of light and shadow and picks up on seasonal changes. In the summer, the protrusions texture the façade with stark shadows, and in the winter the texture transforms through bricks creating shelves for snow to fall on.  Textured and coarse, it exists in stark contrast to the smooth, curving vault on the interior.

Wanting to refrain from the suburban folly of a garage-fronted streets, the decision to create a carport shaped the formal organization of the entire project. The integrated carport carves the front façade, creating a processional entryway reminiscent of the portico; an architectural feature found in Roman architecture which covers and extends from the entrance often as a vault or colonnade. Vaulted porches are also a prevalent form in Toronto’s Victorian housing stock. Toronto’s residential streets are often punctuated by front porches (rather than garages) to create a transitional space between the street and the home. In the case of Pacific Residence, the carved carport creates an inverted porch, which creates an introverted presence on the street. A lightwell which cuts through the height of the building is placed at the depth of the carport, washing the deep space with light, pulling visitors towards the entry. This armoured space is turned inward and perceived as private, creating an intimate entry procession.

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Status: Built
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Photography & Video Credits: Doublespace Photography