Part development venture, part new home for my family, I created a new lot in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood by severing an existing lot into 2 separate properties so we could build a new home from scratch. With a blank slate, I wanted to create a home that was an example of my architectural ideals, and use it as a laboratory for testing high-performance envelope ideas and push my abilities for adventurous, contemporary design.

Ground Floor Plan - Sustainable Residential Addition Toronto

Second Floor Plan - Sustainable Residential New Build Toronto


This house has superior amounts of insulation, much of which is installed as a continuous layer on the exterior of the home. This unbroken layer dramatically reduces thermal bridging, improving the health and comfort of the assembly.

But more important than insulation is the attention we paid to air-tightness. Our energy modelling suggested the exceptional air barrier we created would cut our heating energy by 40%. All of that is achieved with $1500 in tape.

All of these envelope details have reduced our energy demand significantly, but what I have really grown to appreciate are the acoustic and comfort benefits. In the middle of winter, I can sit next to my triple-pane windows with no cold drafts or traffic noise.

Heating is accommodated by an in-floor radiant system, which is zoned on separate thermostats for the north and south ends of the home. This is because a large amount of glass allows the sun to passively heat the south end of the home. Even on the coldest winter days, our heating system never comes on as long as the sun is shining.

In the summer, a deciduous tree shades the south-facing windows to prevent heatgain, and a carefully placed operable skylight at the top of our stairwell uses the stack effect to naturally ventilate the house. We primarily cool the home by opening the windows and skylight in the evening. Air conditioning is only used on the hottest days of the summer. The exceptional envelope and reflective cladding maintain the cool temperature throughout the day.


The shape of the home incorporates a curved front wall with an arched shingle pattern. Although this appears whimsical, the form is derived from logical contextual inputs. The overall height and width follow the existing size and pattern of the street. The eave height is set to correspond with the house to the west, and the curved wall reconciles the differing setbacks of both neighbours. This allowed us to make the otherwise unusual building fit into its context, and gave us room for a walkout to the basement apartment while maximizing space on the second floor.

Massing Diagram - Sustainable Residential New Build Toronto


Cladding materials for the home are all renewable and/or recyclable. Cedar shingles on the north facade will age softly Рbleaching where exposed to sun, and turning silver under the overhangs. The roof, side walls, and south walls are clad in standing-seam galvalume panels Рa rust-proof solution that will last for decades without maintenance. It is untreated, so no toxic paints or coatings were used, and it can be recycled at the end of its functional life. Practicality, simplicity, and logic are the substance behind this creative and unique home.

Recently featured in Downsize: Living Large in a Small House


Toronto, ON


Race Family




1,800 sq.ft.

Project Type


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