Text description provided by the architects. Canvas House subtly stands apart within its neighborhood of Forest Hill in Toronto. Operating as both a house and a vessel for the owner’s contemporary art collection, Canvas House embodies the revered pieces of art it contains through an innovative sculptural façade. This square house – surrounded by Georgian homes – exhibits a monochromatic undulating brick façade that differs from the surrounding symmetrical and conventional residences.
The rhythmic façade responds to function by swelling outward to form an overhang above the door and receding to allow light around the second-floor skylight. The movement within the masonry is unscripted yet arranged like the motions of a theater drape, which is an ode to the client’s background in theater production.
Inspired by the client’s passion for collecting art, Canvas House took the façade as an opportunity to create a sculptural canvas. By prioritizing the possibilities of the resonant form of bricks, Canvas House is organic and orderly, experimenting with materiality and the latest techniques in masonry.
The facade’s unmodulated pattern, formed by a repeating unit of five bricks, is inspired by Larry Poons’ early works. Optics are accomplished by pairing the single-colored brick with individually improvised corbel variations, allowing the design to showcase the brick’s ability to encapsulate the elegance of a Georgian home without relying on traditional forms.
Inside, the interplay of light and shadow creates a sense of depth. The organicism of the exterior façade finds its way inside through the gentle curvature of walls that blend seamlessly with the ceilings and architectural fixtures. The door handles and handrails, for example, are carved from the wall, producing an interior dimensionality emphasized by the careful integration of light. This results in a calm, airy, contemplative interior, an apt home for a captivating contemporary art collection.