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Bright House

Every house tells a story. 


This house tells a story about the lives of its 4 adult inhabitants. The house is a playful interpretation of light-dark, void-solid, and hard-soft. The design of a house begins with the story its future inhabitants. From this understanding of needs, personality, life style, and family structure starts the design process of abstracting and constructing the spaces required for living comfortably within the set boundaries of property, budget, regulations, and personality.

The design for Bright house began after several discussions with the owner, visiting the existing house, and walking through the Toronto Brockton Village neighbourhood. The design formed around the main principals of sunlight penetrating the innermost areas of the home, the needs for four adults in two
distinct dwellings, privacy between spaces, music-jamming, and wellbeing.

I began by breaking the existing house into distinct volumes, from there I designed pathways to each area in which light both natural and artificial push through the space to create multiple volumes within the home in a playful dance of light and shadow.

The brightest area of the home is in the center, a 3 storey atrium with a winding stair which brings you through the middle and drops you gently at each of the three levels, providing bursts of brilliant light and ventilation. While travelling through the center of the home you feel the connection and continuity
of the spaces while at the same time sense the privacy of the rooms out of sight. The path makes you a voyeur in the home. Volumes are reminiscent of slot canyons with bursts of sunlight beaming through the twisted paths and carved out spaces, and camping under the stars in an open ended tent.


The first level provides space for greeting, entertaining, playing music, cooking, related storage and access to the rear garden. Entering from a sheltered nook recessed from the street and front wall of the home and up a terraced set of stairs. The front door faces away from the street and leads to a foyer
with built in storage overlooking the terraced front garden. Next are views to a fireplace in the entertaining and music areas, followed by the bright atrium with its central meandering stair. Beyond the atrium at the rear are the kitchen-dining room with views to the rear gardens.

The second level secures the sleeping quarters, cozy reading nook, bathing, toilet, and laundry facility. Each sleeping chamber with its own distinct qualities helps to provide a sense of both protection and privacy from the outdoor urban environment while framing views to the outdoors, surrounding
neighbourhood, and city. The intentional play of angles, windows/skylights, balconies, ceiling heights, slope of ceiling planes, and material choices has helped to create a comfortable, peaceful and happy environment. Combining tight narrow compressed spaces in contrast with broken expanding abstracted spaces with angular walls and ceilings helps to make each sleeping room distinct and personal. Including a reading/napping nook overlooking the city skyline-rear yard gardens or a private petite balcony wrapped in natural white cedar facing the setting sun and street. The rooms in their playfulness present many options from which to settle, rest, work, or play.

The third level of the home really twists the ideas of private space as it is open to the west views of the street overlooking the front sleeping quarters, and down to the first level through the atrium. Topped by six skylights and the end of the meandering stair the third level opens up to become an informal
sitting area for gathering. You may feel transported to a tent camping experience in your past or dream of sitting and peering out into the starry night. The space is not fixed spills out into the adjacent private and shared areas of the home, imagined for gatherings, yoga, meditation, growing plants, all seems

The lower level of the home was designed as a separate dwelling for one family member. It is distinct and private and yet has a connection through the gardens and window wells to the principal house. As in the rest of the home, this separate space has east and west light penetrating deep into the rooms.
There is an intentional play of the private and public aspects of the home. The bright house is a tribute to the perseverance and grit of the client to push through challenges along the way and invest time, energy, and money into building a special home for her family.

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