Text by Edward Keegan
The Great Gulf Active House in Toronto—designed by local firm Superkül and built by Great Gulf—is a high-tech sustainable sheep in a traditional suburban gabled-roof house's clothing. The architects created a remarkably open 3,200-square-foot plan that provides abundant light and air within the heavily insulated brick and wood building envelope.
The first floor features a double-height living room and dining room at its center, with a kitchen and den spanning the rear. Four bedrooms, including a master suite, can accommodate the target market of young families, and the second floor spaces are connected via a walkway that overlooks the rooms below.
In addition to abundant glazing—there is no point in the occupiable floor area that is more than 23 feet from an operable window—natural daylight floods the home through 14 motorized skylights. Open riser stairs and clear glass guardrails help distribute light throughout, ensuring that little to no artificial illumination is required during the day. A soft materials palette helps bounce light deeper into the space.
The home was constructed using a prefabricated panelized wood structure to reduce waste and construction time. Its sustainable credentials are fleshed out with zoned heating, heat recovery ventilation, a high-efficiency furnace, and a rainwater collection system.
“There were some very nice moments in the interior, especially with the section and all of the natural light.”
—Juror Katherine Hogan
Builder: Great Gulf
Size: 3,200 square feet