Rituals of Home: Ritual Ensuite

Ritual Ensuite, Toronto

Design by Reflect Architecture

Photography by Riley Snelling


Reflect Architecture begins every project by taking the time to understand what is unique to the client’s identity and what is significant to them. We use this early exploration to ensure that each design is progressive and a true reflection of our clients’ character.

In our Ritual Ensuite project, we quickly discovered the clients’ passion for travel to culturally rich destinations. An especially memorable and inspiring journey of theirs was to Istanbul, Turkey, which is home to many incredible hammams; so, this was an exciting place to start when thinking about bathing rituals. In particular, we explored a restored 16th century hammam called Kılıç Ali Paşa, which became an inspiration for this project. Common to many hammams, it has a central element for gathering that is surrounded by individual coves in which bathers are treated, cleaned, and “restored.” This structure became the organizing principal that drove the Ensuite design, the challenge was how to accomplish this on the third floor of a house where the space was awkward and tight, and had a few sloped roof aspects to contend with.

Based on the architectural principles of a traditional Turkish hammam, the ensuite features a large central platform with a sequence of functional elements — a walk-in shower, a hers and shared vanity, a toilet and cabinets— placed inside niches, keeping the different steps intimate and private.

The oculus-like light, inspired by the glass in Kılıç Ali Paşa’s dome, holds the space of the navel stone and the four coves are then arranged symmetrically around it. The feelings of calm and serenity that the space evokes come from its formal order, the use of light, and its simple, honest materials. These materials were specifically chosen to feel like they came from the earth — another ode to the origin of the design inspiration — and allowing them their own masses in the space gives each a sense of reverence, place, and intention.

Arched gables frame each unit and add to the temple-like character of the space, and plaster-based wall covering, stone, rugged wood, and brass all felt honest and respectful to the original inspiration.

Leading a client-centered design exploration allowed the architecture to become a ritual-driven space for our clients that each day reminds them of some of their fondest travel memories.

Trevor Wallace is principal architect at Toronto-based Reflect Architecture.