This Award-Winning Home in Canada Allows Two Generations to Live Under One Roof

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Toronto–based architects tackle the complex issue of aging in place by designing an accommodating multigenerational home.

The House on Ancaster Creek is an award-winning project created by Williamson Williamson—the Toronto-based architecture and design studio—that presents a multigenerational living scenario for aging parents to reside with their adult children. 

To allow each generation autonomy, the property has been conceived as two distinct residences—each forming a separate linear bar containing the full program of a home. The L-shaped dwelling creates a landscaped courtyard setback from the street, and runs parallel to Ancaster Creek, after which the home is named.

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An L-shaped configuration organizes the ground-floor spaces. The volume that accommodates the grandparents' suite contains a kitchenette, a bedroom, and a private bathroom.

An L-shaped configuration organizes the ground-floor spaces. The volume that accommodates the grandparents' suite contains a kitchenette, a bedroom, and a private bathroom.

The parents' suite occupies the ground floor, with the living and dining space anchoring the view. A second bedroom and bathroom are adjacent yet separate, as they are meant to serve as a guest room or for live-in care to accommodate the family needs. 

The perpendicular volume faces toward the creek. On the ground level, the kitchen, living room, and dining area overlooks a courtyard that contains a small tree.

The perpendicular volume faces toward the creek. On the ground level, the kitchen, living room, and dining area overlooks a courtyard that contains a small tree.

The suite is laid out as a single-floor accessible apartment with added features to accommodate the specific challenges facing the aging parents. Among them are well-located drains and a master power switch that can be used to mitigate issues with memory loss—for example, if a sink is left running, or an oven left on.

The kitchen anchors the south end of the home. Set in a double-height volume, the 20-foot-tall pyramidal ceiling creates an expansive space that opens to the creek, the courtyard, and above to the sky. 

The kitchen anchors the south end of the home. Set in a double-height volume, the 20-foot-tall pyramidal ceiling creates an expansive space that opens to the creek, the courtyard, and above to the sky. 

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A detail of the ceiling design. 

A detail of the ceiling design. 

The small second floor acts as a private master suite. This space includes an office, as well as a light-filled cantilevered bedroom that houses the best views of the creek. 

Angular geometry and a minimalist touch define the contemporary aesthetic of the residence.

Angular geometry and a minimalist touch define the contemporary aesthetic of the residence.

Calacatta marble slabs are meticulously detailed to reflect the surrounding landscape and contrast the heavy, flat-sawn solid oak island with a faceted base. 

Calacatta marble slabs are meticulously detailed to reflect the surrounding landscape and contrast the heavy, flat-sawn solid oak island with a faceted base. 

Sustainability was also at the forefront of the design. To reduce the ecological footprint, energy consumption was decreased through a number of key moves.

A detail of the counter design. 

A detail of the counter design. 

The dining room serves as the main shared social space between the two volumes. With glazed expanses on either side, the landscape flows from the creek, through the courtyard, and to the front of the house. 

The dining room serves as the main shared social space between the two volumes. With glazed expanses on either side, the landscape flows from the creek, through the courtyard, and to the front of the house. 

The living room, which is just off the dining room, also overlooks the central courtyard. All of the social spaces are shared by the extended family. 

The living room, which is just off the dining room, also overlooks the central courtyard. All of the social spaces are shared by the extended family. 

A wood-clad spiral staircase connects the living room to the second-floor master suite. 

A wood-clad spiral staircase connects the living room to the second-floor master suite. 

The exterior is a mix of wood and stone, and the ground floor is clad in locally-quarried Algonquin limestone around the perimeter. 

The exterior is a mix of wood and stone, and the ground floor is clad in locally-quarried Algonquin limestone around the perimeter. 

The floor plan. 

The floor plan. 

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Williamson Williamson Inc.

Builder/ General Contractor: DB Custom Homes Inc., David Bernstein

Structural Engineer: Blackwell

Cabinetry Design/Installation: BL Woodworking & Design

Doors and Windows: Torp Inc.  

Photography: Ben Rahn/A-Frame