Contemporary Robert Street Residence showcasing clean lines

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Robert Street Residence is a contemporary home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, designed by Taylor Smyth Architects. Here is a description from the architects, “Back in 2009, Kate Prevedello approached Michael Taylor, a partner at Taylor Smyth Architects, with a proposition. In 1999 she had worked for partner Michael Taylor when she was an architecture student. Since then she had decided to go into construction, and was building new houses and renovating old ones. She asked Michael Taylor to design a modern house for her own residence that she would also build. This would be her first modern construction project. During the process of building it, she came to understand both the elegance and the challenges of contemporary construction and can now speak eloquently at length about the importance of alignments and reveals and bemoan the lack of trim to cover inconsistencies.

Kate and Michael both felt that trying to build a new house to replicate the style of the old houses would not be successful, nor was it appropriate to try.  However, Michael set out to find ways to reference the surrounding Victorian vernacular through scale, proportion and colour without mimicry. A distinctive feature of the old houses was a vertical gable and front porch. This inspired him to configure the front façade with a projecting 2 storey bay window that picks up on the proportion of these gables, and to provide a front porch. However, instead of treating these as 2 distinct elements, the porch and the bay window are unified into one composition that appears to fold up from the porch overhang to the surrounding frame of the
bay window.

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The other materials chosen for the facade are a dark brick that is almost black, but with a warm reddish tint to it that ties it into the color of the neighborhood red brick, and zinc that is used for flashing and the cladding of the set back 3rd floor. A pre-patinated zinc sheet product was sourced that also has a warm slightly reddish tint that complements the brick.

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The rear of the house at the living room is all glass. It opens up to the backyard with 2 large glass doors that slide in front of the third glass panel. Outside at the patio, a deep sunshade trellis/porch substantially cuts down the amount of heat gain from the western exposure. The stone hearth and wall of the indoor wood burning fireplace extend out to become a bench and counter for the outdoor barbecue, further blurring the distinction between inside and outside.

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The center of the house is a double height volume with a linear skylight that runs the length of the space and a continuous slot window down one wall, washing the dining room with natural light. Kate worked with a kitchen and bathroom manufacturer to design and specify all the interior millwork and had very strong ideas about what she wanted for an interior material palette – oak flooring in both rift and quarter cut, and Bianco Assiago marble that she chose because it is quarried near the Italian town of Asolo where her father was born. This is used on the kitchen counters, the first step at the stair and for the fireplace wall and hearth. It has a “leather” finish that is slightly rustic and lightly textured, this gives the stone a soft sheen and retains the color better and is easier to maintain than a honed surface.

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The third floor roof deck takes advantage of a view of the iconic CN tower. Two sliding glass doors meet at 90 degrees, so when they are open the corner of the room that is used as an office appears to dissolve.

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Photos: Andrew Snow Photography

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