Euclid House

Little Italy, Toronto

Euclid House shifted consciousness about living modern, comfortably, and sustainably within a modest footprint and budget.

 

LGA founding partners Janna Levitt and Dean Goodman envisioned their 1,600ft² house on a standard downtown mid-block lot as a prototype for sustainable urban living. Constructed in protest to the neo-historical “mcmansions” of the day, Euclid House is unapologetically contemporary, and yet it quietly conforms to the historic streetscape in scale, setback and massing.

12-foot ceilings and sweeping views to the outdoors expand the modest open-plan main floor, and the interiors were pre-designed with plenty of flexibility for both day-to-day and long-term living. For example, the den doubles as a guest room, the dining table is also a home office, and the basement suite, originally occupied by the couple’s teenaged children, was easily and inexpensively converted into a self-contained, two-bedroom rental unit once they left home. The modestly scaled principal bedroom and unembellished amenities eliminate excess space and promote engagement with the rest of the household and the city beyond.

The house models an array of practical sustainable features. For example, it was built without air conditioning, and instead uses large sliding doors and operable skylights to maximize both cross ventilation and daylight. Other passive strategies — all unusual at the time of construction — include concrete floors with radiant floor heating and a high-efficiency ‘on demand’ combined hot water system.

Three levels of planted roof gardens spark a complete sensory experience, invading the house with the immediate sights of plants, birds and animals, the rustling of wind through the grasses and the scent of herbs. The principal bedroom is surrounded by a roof garden planted at window level, providing the impression that it is floating in a meadow. The family grows fruits and vegetables the rear garden and on the garage roof, further supporting environmental stewardship, well-being, and resilience.

 

The Euclid House is not imposing—it slides comfortably into a very Toronto mélange of styles and periods. And yet the building is full of powerful architectural ideas: A green roof, the very first on a house in its city; a modestly scaled interior that, nonetheless, is ready to accommodate a variety of family configurations and living situations; and what is, still, the best plan I have seen to resolve the dual street and laneway aspects of a downtown Toronto house.

A decade after its completion, it looks better than it did in 2006: an example of thoughtful architecture that responds on every scale from the detail to the city block. Many designs have tried to follow its example, and few will have achieved such lasting success.

– Alex Bozikovic, Architecture Critic, The Globe and Mail

Awards

2008 Design Exchange DX Award
2007 Toronto Urban Design Award
2007 Green Toronto Award – Award of Excellence
2007 Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence

Media

Globe & Mail – Favourite Room: Owners design Toronto home to minimize environmental footprint
Globe & Mail – (May 2007) Building a recognition of environmental costs
Inhabitat – (June 2011) Green-Roofed Euclid Avenue House is an Ecologically Sensitive Dream Home
Globe and Mail – (February 2016) Architecture for the ages
Contemporist
Arch Daily
Archello