Set at the apex of a tight corner along a street lined with historical and stately Victorian homes in downtown Port Hope, this steep ravine site had never been developed. The design for the home began with a desire to preserve a direct view to the ravine for the community to continue to enjoy as they traveled along the street into the centre of town; even with the presence of a building on the site.
The solution is a home which offers transparency and a minimal profile from the street. To the public, the massing of the three-bedroom home is an inviting one-and-a-half storeys, with a double car garage inconspicuously tucked below the entrance level so that it is barely visible from the street. Picture windows appear throughout the front elevation and allow for views directly through the house to the ravine beyond. At the rear, the house is carved into the hill, three storeys high, with expansive glazing and views out to the forest.
A covered entrance porch hovers over the steep ravine and gives an immediate sense of being up in the tree tops as you enter the home. Once inside, the plan opens onto a series of levels, offering surprising views and connections between the activity of the street and the stillness of the steep ravine below. From the living spaces on the main level, the stair leads down to the bedrooms, a workshop and a painting studio, and up to the master suite and then a study on the highest level. Rounding the stair reveals calculated views to the ravine both directly and through the main living areas and bedrooms.
Insulated concrete formwork was chosen as the primary construction element based on its superior thermal and acoustic properties, as well as facilitating the structural requirements for building into the steep slope. In the wintertime, the thermal mass of concrete combined with radiant floors and the expanse of south facing windows have proven to keep the home comfortable with a low supply of mechanical heat. During the summer, large overhangs and the canopy of deciduous trees help to keep to home at a cool. A ‘pop-up’ study at the highest level of the house warms up during the summer and draws cooler air from the windows at the ravine level below. Ceiling fans and this natural ‘stack effect’ ventilation have made it possible to eliminate mechanical cooling all together.
- Facade cladding: Red brick, General Shale Zinc, prePatina graphite grey, Rheinzink
- Flooring: Fuse Hardwood, Relative Space
- Doors & Windows: Aluminum clad wood windows, Loewen
- Roofing: 2 ply mod bit roofing, no specific supplier
- Insulated Concrete Forms: Amvic