Ravine House

From Modern Ruin to Ravine Inspired

John C. Parkin was a Toron­to archi­tect who notably helped advance the mid-cen­tu­ry mod­ern move­ment in Cana­da. Rosedale Ravine in Toron­to was home to a 10,000 square foot pri­vate res­i­dence designed by Parkin which was 75% demol­ished by a pre­vi­ous own­er when our client took over and brought us the project.

Ele­ments from the orig­i­nal John C. Parkin’s house were res­ur­rect­ed to re-define the Ravine House.

The house had become a ruin; a crum­bled mon­u­ment to Cana­di­an mid-cen­tu­ry mod­ern archi­tec­ture. Much beau­ty remained how­ev­er, in the form of mason­ry walls that pro­vid­ed a clear orga­niz­ing start­ing point for the new design. While the walls embod­ied the his­to­ry of the place and offered def­er­ence to Parkin’s design, we decid­ed the new addi­tions should be made in con­trast to the orig­i­nal, his­toric mason­ry ele­ments.

Mid-cen­tu­ry mod­ern icon John C. Parkin’s 50 Park Road.

The front of the house is two storeys fac­ing the street while the back becomes three sto­ries as the prop­er­ty falls away into the ravine. The rela­tion­ship between the house and the trees of the ravine became an impor­tant way to cre­ate inti­mate famil­ial spaces by cre­at­ing ter­races with­in their canopies. The house is orga­nized around a canopy-like dou­ble height fis­sure, carved out between the mason­ry walls. This use of space par­al­lels the ravine expe­ri­ence by cre­at­ing its ana­log with­in the house. Reg­u­lar move­ment through this space to get to oth­er parts of the house cre­ate the same sense of con­stant emer­gence into and retreat out of clear­ings in the for­est.

Like the for­est, the space shows signs of the peo­ple liv­ing in it through the use of a rich array of mate­ri­als includ­ing leather on the stair treads that con­tin­u­al­ly gain tex­ture and def­i­n­i­tion through ongo­ing use. White oak lines the cen­tral hall space and the omnipresent glass pro­vide a per­sis­tent visu­al con­nec­tion to the ravine that helps dis­solve any sense of sep­a­rate­ness. Mul­ti­ple pic­turesque framed views are strate­gi­cal­ly placed through­out the house to cre­ate moments of con­nec­tion and pause.

How do you cre­ate a din­ing room for 16 peo­ple that doesn’t look emp­ty 80% of the time? How do you make big spaces for enter­tain­ing but still make them feel inti­mate, famil­ial and appro­pri­ate­ly quo­tid­i­an? You make walls into doors. One entire leather clad wall of the space slides into posi­tion when enter­tain­ing to cre­ate a more for­mal room. Art and oth­er objects, the use of slid­ing doors, and mis­aligned win­dows all help define the spaces with­out ful­ly cut­ting off one from anoth­er. Out­door rugs on exte­ri­or ter­races cre­ate open air rooms that pro­vide more vari­ety of spaces to live in.

Geot­her­mal heat­ing and high-per­for­mance glass opti­mize ener­gy even at high­ly exposed ele­ments.

Project Facts

  • Client


  • Location

    Rosedale, Toron­to, Ontario

  • Size

    13,000 sq.ft.

  • Status


  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Struc­tur­al — Black­well

    Mechan­i­cal & Elec­tri­cal — BK Con­sult­ing

    Geot­ech­ni­cal — Had­dad Geot­ech­ni­cal

    Land­scape — Janet Rosen­berg & Stu­dio, Neil Turn­bull

  • Renderings

    Nomis Dig­i­tal
    Nai­ji Jiao

  • Photography

    Richard John­son