South Hill House, a renovation, restoration, and addition project in Toronto, Canada, designed by StudioAC, is a stunning example of how to balance new and old elements when transforming a historic structure. The renovation is located north of downtown Toronto, near Casa Loma, and involved adding contemporary details and modernist massing to the existing older brick home. StudioAC’s design approach shows a sensitivity to the existing structure, allowing for a harmonious blend of old and new elements.
The siting of the project was influenced by local zoning regulations, which resulted in a new mass that celebrates the different periods of construction. The addition contrasts the existing house with larger open spaces and panoramic openings that bring in natural light and expand the perspective across the tree-filled neighbourhood. The brick chosen for the new addition matches the existing house, paying homage to the greater Toronto vernacular.
Upon entry, a foyer space with curved openings, stairs, and double-height spaces greets visitors. This curvaceous approach acts as a diagram to contrast new vs. old elements. Existing openings and room divisions remain rectilinear, while new openings in the addition and incisions through the existing structure have softer edges, drawing the eye across, up, and through the project.
A minimalist pallet of wood floors and white walls helps maintain the play of light throughout the project, which changes as the sun tracks across the property. The use of subtle accent materials such as stone at fireplaces, steel at kitchen islands, and a fashion-boutique-inspired pallet within the closet, creates a more robust approach where required.
In conclusion, South Hill House is a successful transformation of a historic structure that pays respect to the existing house while adding contemporary details and modernist massing. StudioAC’s design approach is sensitive to the existing structure and creates a harmonious balance between old and new elements. The use of a minimalist pallet of materials maintains the play of light throughout the project, resulting in a stunning and inviting space. The technical sheet shows the completion of the project in 2022 and credits the team, including the architects, structural engineers, construction management, and millwork. The photos by Jeremie Warshafsky Photography capture the beauty of the space and the successful integration of old and new elements.
StudioAC Team: Mo Soroor, Yu Chu Su, Jennifer Kudlats, Andrew Hill
Structural engineering: GABRIS Associates
Construction management: Gozlan Vouriot & Co
Photos: Jeremie Warshafsky Photography