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Change of heart

A late change in design plans resulted in this Scandinavian feel home redolent with natural outlooks, light and a sense of both space & privacy

Designed by Dory Azar Architect

From the architect:

Standing in stark contrast to its neighbours, this Scandinavian-influenced home by Dory Azar Architect exemplifies the firm’s philosophy of wrapping a home around the owners’ lifestyle.

An intuitive and bold last-minute decision by the owners changed the trajectory of the design for the better, and saved their home from mundanity.

The owners initially reached out to Dory Azar Architect because they wanted a fresh perspective on a previous design concept, by another designer.

They had already obtained a building permit, but were getting cold feet about moving forward with the build.

Towards the end of the meeting, the owners turned to the architect and asked ‘Can we show you what we really want’. 

The architect obliged, and the owners proceeded to share images of Scandinavian-style architecture, explaining how they identified with and appreciated the simple forms, clean lines, and modern aesthetic.

The architect enthusiastically agreed, and the owners decided at that moment to abandon their original plan, thus beginning the process of pursuing a new design better aligned with their tastes and values.

The challenges associated with the design began with the site itself.


The property lies within the 100-year flood plain, as identified by the local conservation authority.

As such, the homeowners were very concerned about the risk of flooding.

The design team worked with the conservation authority to establish a safe elevation at which to build the home.

As a further precaution, slab-on-grade construction was implemented to eliminate a basement or crawlspace, both of which are common building practices in the region.

The space planning for the residence was a response to very specific owner desires.

First, the three volumes were established to encompass their unique uses.

The first volume contains the private areas (bedrooms and bathrooms) while the second contains the entertaining and gathering spaces (kitchen, living, and dining areas). The third volume contains the garage and storage areas.

Once these uses were established, the orientations of the volumes were manipulated to ensure proper adjacencies and flow.

They were further refined to maintain or limit particular views and physical connections between the interior and exterior of the home.

The axis of the private wing of the house is a single loaded corridor that separates the bedrooms and recreational room from the outdoors, providing a visual buffer from the main approach to the home.

The corridor terminates with a modest outdoor patio, which the homeowners use for reading, drawing, and the occasional impromptu musical performance.

The liveable volumes are long and thin to allow for an abundance of natural light, and the polished concrete floors and light interior colour palette further ensure the spaces feel brighter and more open.

The construction methods are vernacular and include standard wood framing, polished concrete floors, and custom millwork.

The exterior finishes include vertical white cedar siding and standing seam metal roofs.

The end result is an exercise in scale and simplicity which stays true to the architect’s philosophy of wrapping a home around a homeowner’s lifestyle for a holistic and owner-appropriate response.

Designed by: Dory Azar Architect

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Windsor Creative

19 Dec, 2021

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