Valley House

Valley House

Fox Whyte Landscape
Toronto, ON, Canada
Residential Landscape

Valley House

Fox Whyte Landscape as Architects

Fox Whyte Landscape Architecture & Design Inc. (FWLA) was engaged early in the design process by the client and Superkul Architects to knit the house with its natural ravine setting.


The design of the front garden looks to both extend the lines of the house into the garden and to engage visitors and the owners of the property with the entire site. A walkway and stepping stone path made of local sandblasted limestone lead anyone entering the site through the gardens before arriving at the front entrance.


A simplified materials and planting palette give the gardens a modern feel in keeping with the design of the house. Weathering steel and light limestone reflect the rich wood tones and light brick of the house, while the muted tones of the grasses and rich colours of the perennials further reflect the palette of the house. A large block of Hameln Fountain Grass, adjacent Heavy Metal Switch Grass, and low maintenance lawn of Sheep’s Fescue provide movement and seasonal interest to the garden.


In the back garden subtle architectural interventions in the landscape, like the weathering steel walls and a custom Ipe and weathering steel bench, work to engage the user with the garden and connect the entertaining and family play spaces with the natural ravine beyond.


Also critical to the integration of interior and exterior are several courtyard spaces. A small courtyard beside the front door helps to dissolve the boundary between interior and exterior spaces while providing privacy from the street. A generous planted window well provides light and views of nature to the basement level, and an interior courtyard in the master suite, a green roof above the basement, connects the occupants to the exterior providing views and interest from the suite entrance and master bathroom.


Early engagement of FWLA in the project was also essential to address the management of the site drainage. The house is located on a reverse ravine. Grading within the ravine lands and around the extensive existing trees, that were to be maintained, was limited and had to be addressed with sensitivity and strategic intervention. Under FWLA’s direction, an extensive drainage infrastructure system was developed in collaboration with the civil and geotechnical engineers. Closer to the house and outside of the tree protection zones, an almost invisible slot trench drain was integrated into the detailing of the patio to capture and direct water to the infiltration gallery, strategically located in the only area without existing trees and under the lawn of the badminton court. Remaining water was carefully directed around the house and maintained on the property through subtle grading and swales, resulting in a dry house and site, while also providing some relief to the local city storm water infrastructure.


This Hoggs Hollow residence demonstrates how collaboration of architect and landscape architect in the preliminary stages of a project can ensure the realization of a sites’ full potentially and ensure the seamless blending of the architecture with the gardens and the overall project site.

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