Palmerston Residence


Designed for a single resident to enjoy in the heart of Toronto’s downtown core, this residence makes great use of a compact city lot but remains functional, providing all that is required for everyday city living.  A broad selection of sustainable technologies help set this project apart from others in the neighbourhood.

The building itself can be broken down into a series of simple diagrams depicting each space and their unique relationship to adjacent areas; in essence the building forms a deep tubular structure which has been divided into simple strips of program horizontally and vertically. Overall, this enabled simple paths of circulation and enhanced direct relationships between differing spaces.

As well, the simple manipulation of wall and ceiling planes have enabled us to explore natural light and its path into the building; the client was clear from the outset that they wished to avoid over exposing the interior spaces to the exterior environment, maximizing privacy where required, but being mindful of not sacrificing the interior living experience. In particular we were very aware of how natural light is vital particularly in deeper buildings where intermediate spaces have a tendency to suffer, and in general remain dark unpleasant spaces.


We were very aware of the need to subtly integrate the building into the existing street-scape, and so were mindful of introducing materials that drew from the existing housing stock. This being the case the design team were immediately drawn to the use of brick and in contrast a soft wood siding; of which both materials are common place in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Internally, the client wished to experiment with a more industrial look and so we chose to wrap the brick into the main living spaces creating a visual tie to the external facades. As well, very early on in the design process the decision was made to utilize the buildings structure as a means to promote the industrial look and so exposing the steel frame within the floor plates helped enhance the visual nature of this. In direct contrast we’ve incorporated the clean look of drywall and the weathered appeal of reclaimed hardwood floors.

Sustainability Features

  • Program and Spatial Optimization
  • Integration with the ‘Natural Assets’ of your Site and Terrain
  • Site Specific View and Vista Optimization
  • Passive Solar Heating
  • Natural Ventilation and Passive Cooling
  • Natural Daylighting
  • High Performance Envelope Design
  • Material Optimization and Modular Design
  • Renewable Materials and Finishes
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Non-toxic Materials and Finishes
  • Radiant Heating
  • Heat Recovery Ventilation
  • Low Energy Lighting & Appliances
  • Water Conserving Appliances & Fixtures

A whole host of other green strategies will be incorporated, including a grey water recycling system, deliberate solar orientation, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and locally sourced materials.

Altius Project Team Architecture

  • Architecture: Graham Smith
  • Interior Design: Michele Bertussi

Project Partners

  • Engineering: TBD