Toronto home shows off big curves

From the whimsical curves of its roofline to the “carved-out” design around a much-loved pool,

From the whimsical curves of its roofline to the “carved-out” design around a much-loved pool, Bézier Curve House is very much created for its residents.

The home’s owner, a custom homebuilder wanted to replace the family home in Toronto’s Lawrence Park with the “antithesis of the flat-roofed, boxy fishbowl.”

Inside, the 5,200-square-foot residence is laid out around the staircase which aligns with the roof’s curve. Named for one of its creators, the Bézier curve was devised in the late 1960s-’70s for use in automobile design.

The home’s ground floor holds the family’s living spaces: the kitchen, dining and a family room that leads out to the pool. The lower level includes a nanny suite, guest area and a play area and up on the second floor are the bedrooms. Between the ground and second floor there’s an office/lounge with a large A-frame shaped window.

That window is such a focal point for the family and their neighbours that they often leave the lights on at night and create seasonal displays to show off the inside architecture. The walls of the A-frame window are extended beyond the face of the glazing, deflecting sunlight and reducing heat inside the home.

Evenly-spaced wood joists were pulled to their maximum tension, fanning the rafters over the staircase into a natural curve.

Bézier Curve House also has three separate high efficiency HVAC systems for climate control and increased energy-efficient temperature management. Hydronic in-floor heating takes advantage of the thermal mass of the concrete slab.

Building materials include brick veneer and Ipe wood for façade cladding, and zinc tiles on the roof. Completed this year, Bézier Curve House took two years to design and build.

Tania Bortolotto, founder and president of Bortolotto Architecture and Interior Design, answers a few questions about Bézier Curve House.

Oversized glass doors and porcelain tile flooring laid flush with patio stones blur the boundaries between inside and out.

What is a Bézier curve?

It’s a parametric curve frequently used in computer graphics to model smooth curves that can be scaled indefinitely. We used this thinking to form a spectacular roofline — a three-dimensional sweep that elegantly hugs the house’s front yard pool and nods to the traditional styles of its gable-roofed neighbours in a fluid and harmonious motion.

You designed around the family’s pool?

We used the existing, quaint front yard lap pool as a point of origin for the design, based on the client’s particular interest in maintaining the memory and experiences embodied on the existing site. As opposed to a conventional rear yard recreational arrangement, Bézier Curve House arrays its program around the lap pool, empowering a swooping curve to define the front yard recreational space.

The home hugs the front courtyard and lap pool that are hidden behind a line of mature cedar trees.

How did you employ software to design the house?

The parametric modelling software was used to give shape to the entire home and to respond to the house’s unique site conditions. We used it to produce a three-dimensional “carving” containing a plan curve, an eave curve and a ridge curve that erases the harsh edges of the L-shaped parti. The roof extends outward from the straight edge of the A-frame and cradles the courtyard and front door in three dimensions.

How was the staircase constructed and flooring used to balance with the ceiling?

It was constructed using evenly-spaced wood joists tied and pulled to their maximum tension, fanning them into a natural curve. The key juncture was left exposed and wrapped in red oak veneer, which creates a feeling of a gothic cathedral. The second-floor hardwood flooring was laid at the same angle as the stairs and rafters to splay through the home’s private spaces.

The home's roof curves in three dimensions, accentuating its L-shape while carving a private space for the courtyard and pool.

What challenges did you have in designing and building the home?

The challenge was creating an L-shaped building around a pool that was not a boxy form. To break the heavy mass of the L-shaped Bézier Curve House and to address the client’s request for a sloped but modern roof, a three-dimensional curve was carved out of the inside corner of the mass. Carving the mass and designing the form and function together to create an elegant architecture was challenging.

Georgie Binks is a Toronto-based writer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Reach her at [email protected]