Canvas House: A Toronto Home With an Undulating Sculptural Facade

06.11.24 | By
Canvas House: A Toronto Home With an Undulating Sculptural Facade

Amidst the stately Georgian homes of Forest Hill in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, stands a square house that’s a work of art designed by architectural firm PARTISANS. Canvas House’s innovative design and sculptural facade set it apart, making it a noteworthy addition to Toronto’s architectural landscape. The 5,220-square-foot residence serves not only as a home for its owners, but for their contemporary art collection as well.

A modern brick building with a large rectangular window on the upper floor and a garage door below, partially obscured by a tree in the foreground.

Canvas House is an example of how architecture can transcend traditional boundaries to become a form of art itself. The home’s facade, a monochromatic undulating brick enclosure, breaks from the conventional designs of its neighbors. The rhythmic surface extends outward to create an overhang above the entrance and recedes to allow natural light through a skylight on the second floor.

A building facade showcasing a textured, brick pattern with an inset window near the center. The upper part of the facade features a slight overhang. The background includes trees and part of a slanted roof.

A modern brick extension with an irregular pattern adjoins a traditional brick house. The extension features a large window, and both structures are surrounded by greenery.

The wave-like movement of the brick ebbs and flows, showcasing both organic forms and natural patterns. When viewing from a distance, the exterior takes on the appearance of the rippling of a theater curtain, which gives nod to the homeowner’s history in theater production.

Close-up of a building facade featuring a unique, wavy, textured pattern made of light-colored bricks, with a large vertical window and part of a doorway visible.

A building façade made of beige stone blocks arranged in a geometric, stepped pattern.

Canvas House is a testament to the possibilities of brick as a material, showcasing that the rigid material can be used to create soft, organic patterns. The facade features an unmodulated surface created from a repeating section of five bricks, inspired by the early works of artist Larry Poons. The use of single-colored bricks with “individually improvised corbel variations” enhances the visual impact, demonstrating how traditional materials can be used in contemporary and expressive ways. This approach not only captures the elegance of Georgian architecture but also reinterprets it through a modern lens, emphasizing the flexibility and aesthetic potential of brickwork.

Close-up of a beige brick wall featuring a repetitive pattern of protruding and recessed rectangular blocks, casting small shadows and creating a textural, geometric design.

A close-up view of a beige brick wall with a textured, undulating pattern.

Minimalist living room with a contemporary fireplace, light wooden floor, gray sofa, and a low-built wooden shelf.

Stepping inside Canvas House, one is immediately struck by the variations of light and shadow, creating a serene and contemplative atmosphere. The organic curves of the exterior continue indoors, with gently curving walls that flow seamlessly into ceilings and fixtures. Architectural elements such as door handles and handrails are carved directly from the walls, enhancing the sense of fluidity and cohesion throughout the space.

A modern living room with a minimalist design, featuring a large geometric artwork above a built-in fireplace, a cushioned sectional sofa to the right, and a black pouf in the center.

A modern, white, sculptural ceiling light fixture hangs in a minimalist room with white walls and a curved, softly illuminated column.

A modern interior featuring a curved staircase with a lit handrail, light wood steps, and a large abstract painting on a white wall.

Thoughtful consideration went into the light within the interior spaces highlighting the subtle textures and forms, adding depth and dimension. This calculated design creates an airy, tranquil environment that serves as the perfect backdrop for the owner’s contemporary art collection.

Minimalist wooden staircase with a curved handrail leading upstairs, framed by smooth walls and light wooden accents. A section of a curvilinear wooden structure is visible on the left side.

A minimalist interior featuring a wooden staircase with a sleek, curved white wall, under a skylight. The adjacent wall has built-in cabinets with smooth, handleless doors.

A wooden staircase with light brown steps and a matching handrail against a white wall. The handrail follows the curve of the stairway.

A close-up of a modern wooden door with a unique curved handle design, partially illuminated by sunlight. The adjacent brick wall is visible on the left side.

Minimalist interior with natural light streaming onto a smooth, light-colored wall and wooden floor. The space features clean architectural lines and a serene atmosphere.

A minimalist interior with white walls, wooden floors, and a staircase. Colorful abstract painting hangs on the right wall, and another neutral-toned painting is partially visible on the left.

A minimalist indoor staircase with white walls, featuring a large abstract painting with vibrant colors on a green background on the left wall, and a simpler, neutral-toned painting on the right wall.

A minimalist room features an abstract painting on the wall, a beige cushioned bench with a built-in mirror on the right, and a neutral-colored rug on a wooden floor.

A modern room with a black leather lounge chair and matching ottoman by a window, with tall white walls and a piece of abstract art hanging above.

Modern brick building facade with a textured pattern, recessed wooden door, concrete steps and a bench labeled with the number 27. Adjacent building partially visible.

A modern two-story house with a unique textured facade and large window, adjacent to a traditional brick home, surrounded by trees.

Modern two-story brick house with a unique textured facade, featuring a large illuminated window on the upper floor and a garage on the right. The house is flanked by two other buildings.

A doodle of two houses and a house-shaped picture frame on a newspaper page.

Concept drawing of Canvas, which was inspired by the homeowner’s love of collection art, with the facade acting as a canvas.

Photography by Younes Bounhar.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.