Guest Author

Guest Author

House Tour: The Cascade House in Toronto

Posted by Guest Author Friday, January 23, 2009 12:21 PM EST


So a family relocates from Arizona to Toronto, and not wanting to leave the feel of ‘big sky’ behind, order themselves up a house that literally bags up the sky, for the pleasure of its dwellers, inside….   Wouldn’t that be nice????

Cascade House, view from the street

Described as “a sculpture of stacked boxes composed from shards of glass and muted black slate” by its architect, Paul Raff, of Paul Raff Studio, the two-and-a-half storey house is configured in an “L” shape around an outdoor swimming pool, and is oriented precisely on an axis with the compass to capture maximum light. 

The children’s rooms and a home office are on the second floor, with the master suite in its own pavilion on the roof, set back from the street and opening up to the treetops (you can see it peeking above - the flat, white overhang.)

  View of the pool from the back and detail view of main slate wall


The sun naturally heats the house in winter through expansive south-facing windows, and its energy is captured in the massive stone wall which keeps the house warm at night.  It is also designed and wired for future installation of solar panels to heat the pool, as well as heat and cool the house.

View of featured staircase and lower level children's play area


A freestanding monolithic wall of dark slate acts as a central spine from the lower level of the house to the top floor, framing the feature staircase. Random cut-outs provide niches for child play, display, and the dappling of sunlight.


Passageway into living room


The living room, dining room and a powder room can be closed off from the kitchen and family room at the rear of the house, allowing for the parents to entertain while their children play.

Family room


Automated shades and passive ventilation keep the house cool in the summer months.


The most dramatic element is a 13-foot tall screen of 475 vertically stacked sheets of heavy, jagged-cut glass, reminiscent of the cascade of a waterfall. The screen ingeniously maximizes sunlight while providing privacy from the street, covering the main section of the first floor, beyond the sitting room window.

View of "waterfall" window from inside living room

Here's a time-lapse video of a day's light as it changes the illumination of the room, turning it into an installation art piece!



Master bedroom

Lined in cream canvas curtains, the compact master suite creates a gentle retreat to contrast the drama of the rest of the house. 

Master bath

The serene master bath plays with letting in the surrounding cool trees, picking up on the colour scheme with the green tiles.  Note how the mirror cleverly doubles the view from the window…

Image credits: Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc, Steve Tsai and Paul Raff Studio

Topics: Green, Home Tours


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