Project: Waxwing Residence
Architects: Ancerl Studio
Author: Nicholas Ancerl
Builder: MaiaLegacy Builders
Location: Toronto, Canada
Area: 4000 sq.ft
Photo Credits: Gillian Jackson
The Waxwing Residence is a three-level home with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms, spread over 4200 square feet on a forested ravine lot. The idea of this house is fully expressed in the front elevation: two wings connected by a transparent, glass bridge inviting the surrounding trees of the ravine to play into the interior. One wing of the facade is like a black palisade, while the other is made of shiny and reflective titanium, creating a sense of privacy and monumentality.
The contemporary family home, which is approximately 70% glazed, called for warmth from within, achieved through the material palette and furnishings. White walls, ceilings and selected millwork paired with white ash engineered floors drives attention not only to the ravine but to selected features within. One such feature is the linear central unit which spans almost the entire length of the home’s main floor, from entry to rear. We have playfully dubbed this unit ‘the swiss army knife’.
The swiss army knife, like its name suggests, holds a multitude of functions within its apparently solid and streamlined form. Waxwing Residence was commissioned as a home for a family of seven, the objective being to create a clean, contemporary space while not compromising on the functionality. This central unit, which at first glance appears to be quite simplistic with its flat cut walnut face, offers an array of functions upon further exploration. The unit as a whole creates division between the main floor spaces, on one side the more open public living spaces of the kitchen and living room, while on the other, the more private program of the formal dining, lounge and office resides.
As you enter the home through the 7-foot wide pivot door, you are met with not only the vista of the ravine ahead, but introduced to the swiss army knife to your right. In the entry foyer, tucked away within this unit you find the stairs ascending to the second floor and opposite that are steps that descend into the private office. The walnut then extends alongside you as you descend the main foyer stairs into the living room. The next function you’re met with is the hidden floor to ceiling slab door which opens onto the staircase to the basement. This door, along with the door across from it, can fully fold in to create a clear passageway between the living and dining area on the other side. Within the living room, two bi-fold pocket doors open up and hide away, revealing the TV and open shelving. The final feature at the end of the unit is a three sided open flame custom fireplace. This fire can be enjoyed from not only the living room and dining room, but also from the outdoors when the 40 foot hangar opens to extend the living space to the backyard. An additional set of bi-fold doors is accessed from the dining room, and opens to reveal a wet bar used for entertainment in both the dining room and lounge. Continuing along the unit, and entering the lounge, the walnut breaks away to showcase a pair of floor-to-ceiling, temperature controlled wine fridges. Through the lounge you enter into the office space which benefits from both open and closed storage.
The design premise of the swiss army knife is carried throughout the residence; on the second level in the primary suite, in the hidden laundry, and entries into each new space, giving us the ability to achieve our goal of creating a modern aesthetic while combining immense functionality for a family of seven.