Forest Hill Residence

Light and Air

Located in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood, the design for this 3-storey home was a response to the clients’ desire to create a comfortable, sustainable home for their growing family integrated within the unique conditions of the site.

The building was conceived of as consisting of two nesting shells; one heavy, situated closer to the street, one light, facing the backyard. The outer heavy shell, clad in brick, provides a sense of shelter and privacy. The inner light shell, clad in wood, is generously perforated with windows and opens itself up to the lush, east-facing backyard.  Between each of the 2 shells, sunlight is able to infiltrate deep into the house through a series of skylights along the northern and southern walls.

Outdoor living is generously provided on all 3 levels with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors creating a seamlessness between exterior and interior spaces. A green roof elevates the back garden up to the 3rd floor roof terrace level while the view over its leafy cover melts into the tree-tops of the backyard.


Large sliding doors on the third floor allow the building to ventilate naturally by drawing cool air through the windows on the lower levels and up the open triple-height stairwell. Polished concrete floors on the main level act as a thermal mass, absorbing the morning sun through the expansive east-facing windows and thus moderates the building’s temperature throughout the day. An in-floor radiant heating system delivers even, comfortable heat throughout all levels of the house.


Sustainability Features

  • Program and Spatial Optimization
  • Integration with the ‘Natural Assets’ of Site and Terrain
  • Site Specific View and Vista Optimization
  • Passive Solar Heating (Thermal Storage Mass)
  • Natural Ventilation and Passive Cooling
  • Natural Daylighting
  • High Performance Envelope Design
  • Renewable and/or Recyclable Materials and Finishes
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Non-toxic Materials and Finishes
  • Radiant Heating
  • Heat Recovery Ventilation
  • Solar Electric (photovoltaic or PV systems)
  • Low Energy Lighting & Appliances (LED, CFL lighting and Energy Star appliances)
  • Water Conserving Appliances & Fixtures (low flow/ dual flush toilets)
  • Green Roof Systems

Altius Project Team Architecture

  • Cathy Garrido
  • Logan Amos

Project Partners

  • Engineering: Moses Structural Engineers - Toronto