Triple threat

Call it the family tree: a historic sugar maple treasured by a household of four outdoor enthusiasts, before and after a major renovation of their home in the southern portion of Ottawa known as the Glebe (a couple of blocks from the Rideau Canal). Batay-Csorba Architects retained the two-storey brick original, but replaced the structurally compromised gambrel roof with a third-storey addition that uses the tree as a central pivot, creating a series of diagonally cantilevered masses. 

On the third floor, the master suite opens up to a private roof garden nestled within nine-foot cedar walls, and beyond that to a sliver of deck from which to commune with the specimen tree and enjoy the view. 

Within, the architects penetrated the volume with a series of interconnected voids, bringing in light and creating relationships between rooms typically separated in Victorian times. “The kitchen and its interconnected volumes transformed the kitchen into the new living room and social space for the family,” says architect Andrew Batay-Csorba. “The scale of the island allows for a myriad of functions — from eating and cooking to working and arts-and-crafts; from social events to baby bathing and toddler dance parties.”•