Architects: Levitt Goodman Architects
Location: Toronto, Canada
Client: Janna Levitt and Dean Goodman
Design Team: Dean Goodman, Janna Levitt, Daniel Bartman
Structural Engineering: G.D. Jewell Engineering Inc.
Landscaping & Green Roof: Gardens in the Sky
Lighting Design: in collaboration with Castor Design
General Contractor: Boszko & Verity Inc.
Project Area: 144 sqm
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: Ben Rahn/A-Frame
Toronto’s Official Plan outlines a future of growth, rebuilding, and regeneration within the existing urban structure. It is requires housing models that increase density, counter urban sprawl, curb unnecessary commuting, address the issue of affordability and flaunt the virtues of living efficiently. Euclid House addresses these issues, offering a unique alternative to the shortcomings of Toronto’s typical housing typologies and demonstrating how thoughtful and innovative design can create a home defined by its compactness, livability, flexibility and sustainability.
An aging workers’ cottage on a downtown street was demolished and replaced by a two-and-a-half storey house with a basement set half-above grade to ensure maximum daylight. The garage was adaptively re-used creating an inner courtyard between the two buildings.
While the house demonstrates contemporary design, its scale, massing and setbacks find cohesion with its older neighbors. Further reciprocity is established through the use of complimentary, rugged materials graced by wood-framed windows and translucent glazing, ensuring that the facade is warm and inviting.
The first residence in Toronto to incorporate green roofs, Euclid has been studied by the City for its sustainable strategies. Planted at every level, the roof gardens effectively bring the footprint of the house to zero. In every season the gardens make a positive contribution to the temperature and air quality of the house. Sited at window level, the second floor garden creates the impression that the bedroom is floating in a field. Native plant species spark a complete sensory experience, invading the house with the immediate sights of the seasons, plants, birds and animals, the rustling of wind through the grasses and the smell of herbs.
At 140m2 for the main and upper floor, Euclid is approximately half the size of a typical new house in Toronto. The modest floor area is compensated by an open plan coupled by 3.5m ceilings. Floor-to-ceiling glazed doors along the east and west facades and a large skylight invite natural light into the heart of the house, significantly reducing the need for artificial lighting. Operable windows and doors, ceiling fans and planted roofs keep the house comfortable in the summer, eliminating any need for air-conditioning.
The plan responds to the requirements of a small site and a busy urban family. The living and dining rooms bookend an open kitchen/work area. A spine of millwork establishes a central node for meeting, dining and entertaining. Bedrooms are dispersed to the upper and below-grade levels, providing parents and their teenage children with distinct and private zones. Deployed on two levels for further privacy and to give spaciousness to the floor below, the second floor, consists of a den, bathroom and compact bedroom with an adjoining dressing/storage area.
The house is designed for optimal flexibility, including the shifting demographic of its occupants. The den doubles as a guest room. The surface beside the kitchen is a home office, a place for breakfast, homework and meetings. When the children move out, the basement is designed to easily convert into a two-bedroom apartment. In so doing, the basement will supplement the household income and maintain density.