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Integral House

Shim-Sutcliffe

Over the past decade, Toronto has shed its stuffy puritan legacy to become the most vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis in Canada. A forest of glass condo towers has sprung up to accommodate immigrants from around the world as well as disenchanted suburbanites who prefer to live close to the center. The arts are flourishing, and top international architects have teamed with the best local talents to enrich the castellated splendor of Victorian monuments with bold new structures. The lakefront has been reclaimed from industry and is being transformed into a linear park. In contrast to this explosion of high-profile development, the partnership of Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe has been quietly seeding the city and the province of Ontario with meticulously crafted galleries and residential buildings. Now, on the edge of a ravine in north Toronto, they’ve created a house that achieves an even higher level of beauty and originality.
It was commissioned by James Stewart, a mathematics professor who writes calculus textbooks and is an accomplished violinist. The house takes its cues from these two disciplines and the owner’s love of curves-marking a radical departure from Shim-Sutcliffe Architects’ preference for orthogonal geometries. Stewart collaborated with a professor of architecture to prepare a detailed program for a live-work complex that would double as an acoustically refined performance space. He investigated several leading American firms before deciding to entrust the job to a local practice and give them a free hand. By utilizing the footprint of the house that formerly occupied the site, the architects were permitted to extend the house to the edge of the ravine and step three stories down its steep side. That gives it the character of a tree, with its roots in the mossy floor of the forest and its crown reaching for the sky.
The Integral House - named for the elongated “S” that is a key symbol in calculus, and for the way that every feature...

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