Cunningham Residence

Ottawa, ON

A new infill house was placed sensitively on an Alta Vista property in order to preserve all the trees, and the sense of "living in the forest". The curved south facing sunken sunroom provides a 180-degree view of these trees. The main family living spaces are to the rear of the house with kitchen, dining and sunroom open to each other and the garden trellis.

The architectural forms used are evocative of rural stone buildings with steep metal roofs, attached by a flat glazed hallway. The massing of the house is two stories at the front and one-storey at the rear, so the form steps down into the garden as well. The formal living room, hall and den are 4 risers up from the sunroom. A transparent and floating steel stair connects the upper private and lower informal living spaces. The clashing geometry of the dramatic stair also frames a grand descent into the coveted wine cellar.

Airtight and insulated with R50 walls and an R70 roof; and outfitted with triple glazed fiberglass windows, this house approaches the Passive House energy efficiency standards. Careful energy simulation dictated the extensive south facing windows and doors and minimal north facing ones. The garage is tucked into the plan at 90 degrees in order to not present a garage door to the street. A north facing trellis creates an ephemeral front porch camouflaging the garage. A cantilevered wood balcony provides a perfect morning viewing deck for the sunrise, just off the master bedroom.