On my ‘Forest Hill’ Block: Stack House

Designed by  Atelier RZLBD, the Stack House is a playful expression of horizontal volumes, which are stacked on top of and cantilevered from each other.

Image courtesy of: Atelier RZLBD

The stack is composed of three “blocks”. The lower block, containing the public programs, is finished in stucco. The middle block, containing the transitional programs, such as the multi-purpose room on the mezzanine level, is finished in charred wood. The upper block, containing the most private programs, such as the master bedroom and ensuite, is finished in metal paneling.

The Forest Hill home’s quadruple-height staircase, with diverse light shafts around it, travels from the skylights all the way down to the basement. Rooms on different levels about this extreme vertical void at the center, either closed to be separated or opened to be combined.

Image courtesy of: Atelier RZLBD

Located between the ground floor and the second floor, the multi-purpose room is a diagonal extension of the living room below and across as well as a distinct gathering space shared by the three bedrooms on the second floor.

From the living room, this diagonal sightline continues to the transparent wine cellar and the feature garden in the basement. Unlike the clear delineation of the blocks on the exterior, the interior is a vertical labyrinth around the staircase, generating a constant motion either in body, eye, or mind, throughout the entire stack of the house.

Image courtesy of: Atelier RZLBD

The stacked profile of the house is well scaled to the surrounding, its face with a pitched roof blending and provoking at the same time. Simultaneously, the monotonous, dark presence evokes a sense of monumentality, hinting at more fluid and undefined spatial boundaries inside.

While complying with all the regulations, the house rejects the homogenous conception of the majority of (residential) architecture in the city, suggesting an alternative typology; it creates an unorthodox form that reclaims the free nature of an architectural space, while maintaining and dramatizing the spatial order that unifies the interior and exterior complexity.  

Project credits 

Client: Private

Budget: Withheld

Architect: Atelier RZLBD

Project Lead: RZLBD (Reza Aliabadi)

Project team: James Chungwon Park, Raisa Nekhaeva

Structure: Recon Consulting

Mechanical: McCallum HVAC Design Inc.

Architectural Photography: Borzu Talaie 

Location: Ontario, Toronto, Forest Hill

Basics: Three-storey wood & steel structure

Lot: 5490 sqft / 510 m2

Living Area (GFA): 4040 sqft / 375 m2

Design: 2018 – 2019

Completion: Spring 2022