PLANT Architect Inc.

PLANT Architect Inc.

Toronto, ON, CA


Westminster Residence

This project comprises the replacement of an existing rear addition with a new expanded two-storey addition plus interior renovations and garden, to accommodate the changing spatial demands of an expanding family and, in particular, to renew the visual connections between the historic house and the garden.

The new addition houses a bright open sunroom, homework area and rear entry at the ground floor, a bathroom and an intimate deck off the master bedroom at the second floor, and a cheerful mudroom at the basement level. Access to the sunroom is via an airy and colourful open stairwell, bathed in natural light. The focal point of the stair and sunroom is a sculpted custom wood cabinet with integral handrail.

The addition addresses an enlarged and repaved garden patio with a custom gate and fence, both to provide privacy and security, and to provide access to bicycle and vespa parking. The second and third floor roof structures were designed to accommodate a green roof, which is to be installed this season.

In contrast to the former solid brick addition, which blocked the house from the garden, the new extension is a composition of windowed, hovering, box-like structures, which push out into the garden. The dark-coloured ground floor extension is protruding from the existing house like a bay, and the light second floor addition is perched on top. The addition of a corner window at the upper-level bathroom allows a panoramic view of the neighboring properties and makes one feel as though the room is floating above the garden foliage.

Inside and out, the project is characterized both by shifting forms and by a consistently playful palette of light and dark surfaces, colour accents, changing textures, and highly resolved precise details - a theme that is continued throughout the house. Upper and lower additions are covered on the exterior by blonde and dark clear cedar siding (respectively), large wood and clad windows, custom copper standing seam at the entry, copper flashing and scuppers, and bright orange-stained marine-grade wood accent panels.

We have high-lit and framed the carefully crafted characteristics of the existing home including the oak paneling and floors, exterior wood details and masonry structure, and reflected these qualities with an equivalent level of material richness and detail in the new design.

With its tree house-like aesthetic, overlooking and extending into the back garden, the addition has become a retreat for this growing family of five. The strong colour contrasts of light and dark against blue and orange, coupled with highly articulated details, bring a graphic, energizing, floating quality to the surfaces of the project. The interior has inspired the kids to utilize all aspects of the house as a playground, including using the stair handrail as a bright toy-car racetrack.

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Status: Built
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Photo Credits: Craig A. Williams