Green to the core

Nick Myall
Tuesday 16 Aug 2016

This unique home puts the garden at the centre of everything

Garden Void House is a single family two storey house, including five bedrooms, basement home office, living/dining and kitchen/family room and an enclosed garage space of approximately 4000 sq ft in total.

This infill residential project is located in North York, a traditional Toronto neighbourhood in Canada. It occupies a corner lot with its north and west façade setbacks enjoying natural daylight throughout all seasons.

From the outside in, it is crafted with natural yet refined honest building materials, and there is a  strong contrast between large and very narrow windows. From the inside out, the residents enjoy a beautiful oasis filled with emotion and positivity, while maintaining their privacy.

The oasis is centred on the garden, which begins unconventionally on the basement level and torpedoes up through the void at the centre of the house. The contrasting windows play a crucial role in supporting the growth of the home, lighting it up brilliantly during the day and allowing just the right amount of light into the house. This house was designed not just for a family to function, but for them to live and grow.

This home interconnects the garden from the basement to the second floor through a Void. The Void shares an internal journey through the building. This combination gives the home an emotional quiet core while encouraging a smooth circulation of everyday family activities.

Adding solar panels is too often the result when some tweaks are required to create “green” buildings. But Garden Void House’s architect Alva Roy has created a truly sustainable building that responds intelligently to its climate and site and the challenge presented by developing new, mesmerizing, livable architecture in Toronto.

One of the important components of Garden Void House was the specified amount of natural light and visibility to ensure the interior spaces remain bright while maintaining a sense of privacy. To do this, horizontal narrow windows designed on the west, faced to the street side and create a sense of privacy while harvesting natural light throughout the day. They also control glare and heat along the long west face of the building. Two large openings located at the same side beside the ‘Garden Core’ bring just the right amount of light to the lower level through the Garden Void and evoke positive emotional responses from the client and his family who lived there.

Excessive heat that might be generated by a large skylight or ‘stack effect’ has been avoided by offsetting the skylight at the higher floor level with combination of an opening that plays a role in creating natural ventilation between the voids at the second floor.

The Garden Void House was built to marry architectural design and vision with the functionality required by the client. As a result, Alva Roy Architects have created a modern home that is dedicated to the client’s desires while adding a spiritual feeling to the space through interior gardening and an exterior green courtyard at basement level. Both Gardens transform the traditional sense of what a garden is, no longer the surrounding, but the centre of the home.

WAN House of the Year Award 2016 now open. For more information contact:


+44(0)1273 201 123

Nick Myall

News editor

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