Split House

Architect: Superkül
Location: Toronto, Canada
Photographs: Shai Gil


Split around a double-height space at the centre of the plan, the various rooms and spaces of the house are knit together with a bridge and stair that loop through the central volume. Climbing the stair and walking along the bridge the house unfolds, and the surrounding neighbourhood and landscape come alternately into view, framed by views of the sky. It is in this way that the house feels both intimate and grand– the view out is expansive, but carefully framed by the architecture to create smaller and more intimate spaces.

Located in an historic residential area in midtown Toronto, the house knits itself into its traditional context through a translation of contextual proportion and materiality. Datum lines are taken from the adjacent houses and the wood and brick cladding maintain the material palette of the area. A textured landscape out front works to enhance the warmth of the building materials and further knit it in.

The house was designed to maximize passive ventilation and cooling; hot air rises through the central volume by stack effect and is vented through operable skylights, and drawing cooler air in through the large sliding glass doors at ground level. Partial solar shading over south and west facing windows reduces solar gain in the summer. A split mechanical system improves the energy efficiency of the house, as do wall and roof insulation values that are greater than those required by the building code. Thermally broken window frames reduce heat loss and transfer.

Above all, the clients wanted a house that was comfortable for just the two of them, but could just as comfortably host large gatherings. The split and bridging of the upper storey in section and plan creates a sculptural and playful architecture of hidden corners and unfolding scenes that changes with the light and seasons, and feels both small and big at the same time.

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