Courtyard on the lane

For many years, this private lot remained vacant and overgrown. Sited next to a public pedestrian laneway, the lot became popular with passers-by who cherished its ‘park-like’ characteristics.

The design for a south-facing garden courtyard along the public path proved a logical public/private interface that aimed at re-inventing the open space while preserving the privacy of the house.

The house has been designed in four distinct volumes, all focused around the courtyard theme. The varying shapes and volumes of the house serve to break up the mass of the building on the lot.

A central glass spine connects the interior rooms to a series of outdoor living spaces and strives to provide a vivid experience of the environment and its seasonal changes, and to be a sort of “house in nature” within the city.

The central spine travels the full depth of the house from front door to back, paralleling the public laneway which connects the discontiguous segments of Maple Lane. Arriving at the front door, one can see straight through to the trees behind the house. This theme repeats itself throughout the design in a desire to connect the indoor space with its natural environment and reinforce the home’s contribution to the urban morphology of Rockcliffe Park.

Courtyard/Outdoor Room

The negative space formed by the U-shaped plan defines the courtyard as an outdoor room accessible from each of the interconnected living spaces including the kitchen, den, living and dining spaces and master bedroom. The outdoor living space is furnished with soft seating area, dining area, outdoor kitchen with BBQ, as well as a health spa lap pool with outdoor shower and sun terrace. From the pool deck, an outdoor stair provides access to a finished basement level with a health spa, recreation room as well as three additional bedrooms.

Spanning the south property line, a privacy screen abutting the public pathway was designed to mimic the flanking stone wall masses containing the glass volumes of the house. Using a combination of a wood privacy lattice, stone wall slabs, and native plant types, the privacy fence blends into the surrounding landscape while allowing passers-by a subtle glimpse into the private realm.

Spanning the north property line, a traditional side yard condition is transformed into a golf theme with a landscape of practice putting greens.

Site Planning

Through a mystery of urban planning, Maple Lane is interrupted by the depth of a typical Rockcliffe Park residential lot. While the street is broken, a public right-of-way allows passage by foot traffic, suggesting that the disjuncture was conceived as a traffic calming measure.

Since the lot offered street access from both the front and year, the front exposure of the property was left uninterrupted by a driveway or garage. Grade falls dramatically from the rear to the front yard on Juliana Road. A stepped pathway rises from the street edge to the front door with three distinct landscape plateaus. Softening the transition from public to private, the pathway changes axis part way to align with the central axis of the house as you approach the private realm. This ascension provides visitors a Zen-like experience through a garden terrace. A rear parking court is accessed from the east. 

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