In Toronto, Ontario, newer residential dwellings tend to replicate the historical brick and gable form (minus the exquisite attention to detail and craftsmanship), borrow heavily on the traditional 'manor' pastiche (albeit often slathered in cream stucco and stone veneer) or, at the other end of the spectrum, embrace a contemporary cubist modernist aesthetic that stands unapologetically without regard for the context of its setting. As a result, finding a dwelling which has been reinterpreted into a modern space while complementing the existing architectural fabric is surprisingly infrequent, and even more rare is when its exceptionally executed!
For me, Ja Architecture Studio's Semi-Split is special, and dreamy. The design, materiality and domestic context of this home combine to produce a holistic residential experience while embracing artistic quality and functionality through innovative ideas.
Located in the West Queen West area of Toronto, recently described by Vogue magazine as one of “the 15 coolest neighbourhoods in the world” (probably after seeing this house), the building’s exterior has an engaging dialogue with the streetscape. I especially like how the first and lower level entries are demarcated by the poured concrete knee wall (a strong focal point compared to the transparency of the metal picket fencing and the copper facade), and how the lower level's sunken courtyard offers the opportunity to congregate and engage with passersby (as seen on the middle floor plan above).
The space plan of the suites, which are each around 1,000 square feet, are intelligent and efficient, but what I'm really obsessed with is the facade. Set amongst a community of traditional Victorian and Edwardian houses, Semi-Split’s design reinterprets the neighbourhood’s heritage elements to combine poetic, yet radical geometry while respecting its historic form.
Although there is a bold image produced by the linear verticality of the structure and large glass windows, the weathered, subdued tone of the copper matches the reddish-brown brick of the neighbouring vintage homes, maintaining visual continuity. By remaining respectful of the scale, form and colour palette of the streetscape, the residence presents as a distinctive statement without overwhelming nor competing for attention.
In my opinion, this exquisite architecture engages a revolutionized take on the modern rectilinear glass home.
Authentic, and respectful of its setting, JA Architecture studio successfully created a captivating harmonious dwelling!
To learn more about their impressive designs, visit Ja Architecture Studio
All Photos Courtesy of Sam Javanrouh.
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Researched and written by Tasneem Murtaza Shahpurwala, Undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies, University of Toronto.