From energy efficiency to passive design strategies, we take a look at structures that were built with sustainability as a priority
For the design of this lush, urban home in Toronto’s Midtown neighbourhood, the clients wanted a space inspired by their weekends in the countryside. The team at Dubbeldam Architecture + Design did just that, creating a sustainable dream home that connects seamlessly and creatively with the surrounding nature.Aptly named the Skygarden House, the home underwent a complete overhaul, significantly reducing its ecological footprint. To achieve the most efficient methods of heating, cooling and lighting while minimizing costs, mechanical and electrical systems are integrated with passive design strategies that won the home a Canadian Green Building award in 2016.
Skygarden House is built on an ‘existing footprint’ of a century-old fully detached house, and from the previous structure, only the two side exterior walls were kept.
The most noticeable feature of the house are the planes of floor-to ceiling glass, made up of a combination of windows, doors and spandrel panels.The glass acts as the perfect frame for the lush exterior views, letting in plenty of sunlight and giving each room a unique spatial quality. Most notably, the glass provides ample access to outdoor spaces on both lower and upper levels of the home.
A large skylight improves natural ventilation through a ‘stack effect’, reducing the need for air conditioning. Combined with the home’s east-west orientation, Skygarden House is constantly flooded with natural light, minimizing the need for artificial lighting.Highly efficient in-floor radiant heating, high-velocity cooling systems, superior insulation, and energy-saving fixtures and appliances are also incorporated throughout, to optimize energy use year-round.
The rear yard—another standout feature of the home—features a generously scaled thermally treated ash wood deck ideal for entertaining and enjoying the surrounding nature. In another zone, a row of honey locust trees offers plenty of shade in the summer.The surrounding trees, visible from every floor thanks to the home’s many glass windows, truly give the space its “countryside oasis” vibe. In keeping with its name, site vegetation covers the west façade to ‘mitigate glare’ and excessive heat in the summer, while solar gain keeps the home warm during winter.As the Dubbledam team explains, Skygarden House is a modern home that considers the context of the street and carefully reimagines its interior spaces, and their relationship to the outdoors.