Smart Tech Makes this Modern Home Ultra Energy Efficient

Using a combination of passive design principles and active technologies, LGA Architectural Partners forges a smart, energy-efficient Toronto home designed for aging-in-place.
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Describing a modern design as marrying "form and function" is an old saw these days, but in the case of a house in Toronto's Bedford Park neighborhood, it couldn't be more true.

Located in Toronto, the Bedford Park House embodies an architectual hat trick: it's smart from a technological standpoint, it's energy efficient, and it's designed so the residents, a doctor and his wife, can age in place. Architect Alex Tedesco, a senior partner at LGA Architectural Partners, created a thoughtful design grounded in the advanced building science and that embodies the principles of modernism. The facade is clad in Rum Raison Velour brick by Belden with Douglas fir accents.

Architect Alex Tedesco, a senior associate at LGA Architectural Partners and a certified building science specialist, created a home that its owners can enjoy for decades. "My building science background allows for a more informed design process based on scientific research that enables LGA to create buildings that are beautiful, perform better, and are healthier for their occupants and the environment," Tedesco says.

The house responds to its site. "The design was directly influenced by two mature, century-old magnolia trees in the front and a Japanese maple in the rear," Tedesco says. "The location of widows and main program spaces, such as the living room and master bedroom, were strategically placed to take full advantage of views of these trees. Because the trees are fully visible from the interior, seasons and the trees' yearly blooming cycles play a significant role in daily life—they're not just landscape elements. The window sizes and their locations were coordinated with the existing trees to take advantage of passive solar shading in the summer and solar gain in the winter months when the trees do not have foliage."

The residents—Tedesco's cousin, a doctor, and Tedesco's cousin's wife—desired a home that would evolve with the changing needs of their family, that had privacy, that preserved mature trees on the site, and that would respect the architectural fabric of the neighborhood while still embodying a modern aesthetic.

The flooring throughout the interior is maple. A vintage Ercol sofa and arm chair, Eclipse coffee table by Stua, Wide Wale rug by Bev Hisey Textile Design, and Moon floor lamp by Estiluz Spain furnish the living room. "Extensive planning went into 'aging in place' forecasting a host of different scenarios about what that meant physically and psychologically," Tedesco says. "We did 'day in the life' modeling to understand all the various barrier free requirements that might arise. This heavily influenced the design of the house especially in the flow of circulation and the size of specific elements including the corridors, door widths, washrooms (showers, sinks and toilets design and location) and bedrooms. Finally the entry sequence from the driveway and the walkway to the front and side doors were designed to be future proofed to allow aging in place."

The resulting 3,100-square-foot, two story house uses a mix of passive design principles and active technology, like geothermal heating and automated lighting, to earn its green credentials. Because the residents intend to live in this house for decades to come, Tedesco selected durable finishes that will stand the test of time. "The materials needed to be elegant and, in essence, could also age well in place," he says. Indeed, the brick-and-wood clad house with its minimalist sensibility, refined details, and thoughtful design moves will endure the test of time—the true marker of a smart home.

The kitchen is outfitted with a duel-fuel range by Bosch, a Diamonte Canopy hood by Faber, a LaPerla dishwasher by Miele, French-door refrigerator by LG, Blanco sink, and Compact Smart overn by Breville. Catifa 46 stools by Arper are stationed at the bar. The counters are quartz and the cabinets are solid maple. "Given that the owners’ intention was to stay and age in the house, we decided that the materials needed to be elegant and timeless and, in essence, could also age well in place," Tedesco says. "This led to devising a refined and warm palette of natural finishes. White carrara marble, oiled clear Douglas fir, and maple floors and millwork create a light, warm interior with a reddish hue that emanates when the sunlight washes the woods. The selection process included R-and-D on the materials to assess their ability to be both robust enough to handle every day wear and tear in the short term and acquire a beautiful patina long term. We also researched MSDS charts to ensure they were safe, non-toxic, and would not off-gas."

While the house is spread over two stories, Tedesco alotted space for an elevator, should the residents have mobility issues down the line. The pendants are Spillray by Axo and the windows are Loewen.

Tedesco's father was a precision machinist and his uncles worked as welders and carpentry framers. As a tribute to his family's history, Tedesco made the blackened-steel-and-wood staircase a focal point—it can be seen from nearly every room in the house.

Carrara marble clads the spacious bathroom.

The structure has a 60/40 ratio of walls to windows, a figure that was achieved through computer modeling. "This ratio balances the amount of high R-value solid wall to glazing to create an overall building envelope for optimum thermal performance," Tedesco says. "This ratio was fine-tuned and tested using computer modeling that incorporated site-specific information such as building orientation, and the surrounding infrastructure such as neighboring houses and trees. The end result was an envelope design and window placement strategy that optimizes seasonal daylight cycles, maximizes solar gains in the winter, increases the level of interior natural daylighting, and considers views of the surrounding neighborhood." Because the residents are sensitive to noise, the walls feature extra insulaton, especially in the bedrooms and media rooms.

Active systems, in addition to thoughtful orientation and structural planning, help the structure become ultra efficient. The primary heating source throughout the house is radiant flooring connected to a geothermal system. Tedesco specified the Uponor Climate Control Network to operate the systems. "Every heating zone can be scheduled for setback," he says. "Then, through the communication and coordination of zone operation from main control panel that monitors the entire system, equipment and zones are cycled in harmony. The entire climate control system including the geothermal, ERV, A/C, and heat pumps is balanced to maintain optimal performance and occupant comfort. The Lutron Maestro lighting control, home entertainment, and security system can all be monitored and controlled remotely through a web-based program provided by the equipment supplier. The entire system has wireless access points throughout the house to ensure conductivity." The media room sofas are Ikea's Karlstad model, the rug is by Bev Hisey Textile Design, and the pendant is the Caprice by Viso.

A deck is located off the dining area.

The majority of windows are on the south facade to optimize solar gain.


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