Toronto was developed with an awareness of its geology and geography. Scribed by a vascular system of deep ravines and green spaces which cuts through the urban fabric in a manner unlike most other metropolitan centres, the landscape of the city’s east end terminates in one of the most striking landforms in the GTA, the Scarborough Bluffs.
Development in this area of the city is contentious, vastly involving conservation and ecological concerns, historical and archaeological potentials, as well as practical considerations regarding the instability of the cliff edge. Site planning was carefully coordinated with a number of Authorities at the municipal, regional and provincial level to ensure that a responsible, transparent and respectful design solution was formulated.
The landscape on which the proposed house sits is constantly changing and eroding: 12,000 years ago layers of sediment were compacted under the weight of ice, only to be carved away as the glaciers retreated and the waters of ancient Lake Iroquois receded, the result is a shoreline of distinct mass formations separated by alluvial channels. It is a unique condition with which to imagine an architectural relationship to both the water and the crest of the Bluff.
Erosion plays a critical role in the conception of 10 Meadowcliffe Drive. The house is conceived as a stone mass rising out of the cliff crest; two cranked forms carved by water and wind to form a luminous interior. The wings of the house contain the primary program, connected by a dramatic three-story atrium.
Designed for a large, multi-generational family, the ground floor is arranged for large gatherings, with generous living and dining spaces opening out to a rear terrace and pool. The ground floor also includes a fully-accessible suite, while the second floor houses the remainder of the family’s bedrooms. Natural light permeates every space, and each room has a view to Lake Ontario to the south, or to the forested hill of the ravine to the north. A third-storey family room and sky yard offers an all-season get-away for friends and family with full panoramic views around the site.
St-Marc stone was chosen as the solid masonry exterior, in composition with grey stained cedar and clear aluminum window frames. The main interior walls – flanking the atrium – are clad with the same stone, anchoring the 3-storey central space. From entrance to Bluff: the house offers a natural transition from the front door, to the atrium, through the house, to the terrace and infinity pool, and finally to the very sharp edge of Bluffs and horizon of Lake Ontario.
The house is designed to be completely accessible. An elevator provides access to all levels, and wheelchair turning radii and corridors widths were seamlessly integrated into the design and scale of the house. The exterior thresholds have been detailed to create a seamless, level transition between inside and outside.
Currently under construction.
Location: Toronto, ON
Rendering: Lebel & Bouliane