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House Features Wall of Operable Reclaimed Douglas Fir Screens

Echo House by Paul Raff Studio Architects is located in Toronto, Canada on a 2-acre site. It is not a new home but rather a renovation and expansion of a smaller house and the transformation is so complete that Echo House not only looks new – but is dramatically different in a seriously exciting way as well. The wow factor is not only from the outside but from the inside as well.

Dramatic as the individual details on the home’s facade are, from a distance the architects cleverly created an overall aesthetic that blends and merges within its landscape by using neutral shades of black within the stepped back dark raked stucco volume, shades of pale grey within the 142ft Algonquin Limestone wall and natural Douglas fir wood within the Asian inspired wall of operable screens.
It’s only when you get up close and personal that the uniqueness of the details mesmerize the onlooker. The wood screens are designed in a repetitive pattern of bentwood fastened together with dark metal connectors similar to what you would see on traditionally crafted Korean antiques. Each screen pivots on a central post either forward or backward as though they are kinetic sculptures rather then functional privacy screens.
The series of screens wraps around an inner courtyard, creating privacy for the guest bedrooms that overlook the garden and for those outside enjoying the greenspace.
The Korean fastening detail used on the facades’ Douglas fir screens is part of an overall theme of the renovation based on a muse of eastern philosophy and its harmonious connection to the surrounding flora and fauna. With the screens visible through the glazings on the front facade, the design is complete with the choices of interior architectural details as well as with the choice of interior furnishings – such as this reclaimed Douglas fir wood dining table.
The connection of the new architectural details with the interior design is no accident. As Paul Raff Studio Architects was responsible for both.
Aside from the private courtyard out front, Echo House has a huge backyard just off of the social zone with large sliding glass doors creating a seamless connection to both zones.
The floor to ceiling black columns that march across the wall of glass where designed to create an even stronger connection to the backyard vistas with their tree trunk resemblance.
A projection on the buildings facade creates a side wall to the backyard terrace and just inside this projection on the main level is a family room next to the kitchen with a stairwell beside them that leads to the 2nd story.
The details on this section of the building is as intricate as the wood screens on the front facade – and check out the stunning Laser cut steel filigree patterns on the staircase balustrade!
The Asian pattern within the balustrade continues the traditional eastern details used throughout the home, only in this case rather then using traditional wood joinery to create them, a CNC machine was used.
The new kitchen just past the stairwell is large. The homeowner loves to cook and entertain, as well as host large family gatherings.
Commercial grade appliances, large amounts of storage and prep space and even two stoves means that when the family congregates there is not only enough supplies for everyone, but enough space for family to help out.
Walls of storage do not mean the garden views have been forgotten. Large expanses of glazings keep the chef and sous chefs connected with the flora and fauna beyond,
Down the hall from the kitchen another pair of filigree patterned screens leads to the pool area.
This screen operates on a central pivot similar to the Douglas-fir screens on the front of the home.
The indoor pool area is a dramatic color scheme of black walls and deck and brilliant turquoise pool interior whose shape is mimicking the wood section in the ceiling.
Aside from the pool room, there is a play area for children that overlooks the backyard.
There is also a family study upstairs.
Upstairs is also where the bedrooms are located, and although the master suite is not on ground level, the large connecting deck creates the perfect outdoor zone for relaxing.
The deck is wrapped with a glass balustrade for the ultimate in garden viewing.
The children’s bathroom leaves the neutral Zen-like atmosphere behind in favor of a bold splash of mosaic blues and greens.
Upstairs is also where the homeowner’s art studio is located. There is also a secret photography studio which is accessed by its own secret staircase, lending a sense of mystery to the home.
It was important to the homeowner to incorporate sustainable and earth friendly features and the architects achieved a 50% reduction of the home’s energy consumption by using high performance insulation, heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
Paul Raff Studio Architects
Photography by Ben Rahn of A-Frame Inc. and Steve Tsai


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