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A Sanctuary in the City by Vanessa Fong Architect


Amidst the century-old red brick homes in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood, Woodycrest stands out for its use of material and scale

For the clients of a residential project just north of The Danforth, architect Vanessa Fong‘s take on holistic design was a perfect match. From the street view, they wanted a modern home that still fit contextually within the historic builds of their neighbourhood. Inside, they sought a thoughtfully curated blueprint promoting a sense of well-being and oneness with nature. By marrying wood features, clean lines and tons of natural light, Fong granted all their wishes in one 2,334-square-foot sanctuary called Woodycrest.

Woodycrest, Toronto Homes

Well Planter Lights (hanging pendants), Object Interface; counters and backsplash, Caesarstone.

Woodycrest is a home adorned in natural oak. Different variations of the wood are used throughout the kitchen in cabinetry, shelving and a dividing entry point that visually distinguishes the kitchen from the adjacent living/dining area. The use of wood was part of the team’s strategy to balance the coldness of the home’s heated concrete floors — a top request of the clients. “I think humans tend to gravitate toward textures and materials that are inherently natural,” says Fong. “So, this was our approach to adding warmth and softness to the space.”

Working closely with project contractor Walden Homes, Fong’s blueprint allows for every feature within Woodycrest to balance with one another in harmony. As a result, the home presents a remarkable example of contemporary living, characterized by its spacious and well-designed interiors. It stands as a testament to the imaginative application of natural materials – in this case, wood and concrete – skillfully enhancing them to create a captivating visual experience without ever becoming overwhelming to the eye.


Millwork, Nick Day Design.

“For me, proportion is so crucial,” says Fong. “In a home like Woodycrest, how the oak was used and how much of the oak was used were equally important.” In the living area, it makes its appearance in a floating television console, inbound shelving and on the ceiling. Contrasting textures distinguish the unique features while still maintaining a cohesive warmth.

Vanessa Fong Architect

LEFT Custom stair slats, railings, Nick Day Design. RIGHT Skylight, Forfinch Glass.

A 24-foot-long skylight illuminates the stairway, where light from the west-facing windows can’t reach. “It was important that we found a solution to allow natural light to serve the core of the house,” says Fong. “This way, the entirety of Woodycrest is well-lit for the majority of the day, even when it’s cloudy outside.”

As light fills the home, it enlivens the textures of different materials throughout, becomes a breathtaking canvas of changing shadows and, like a daily practice, draws its inhabitants closer to nature.

Fong’s choice to use quintessentially Toronto red brick for the home’s facade was an intentional one. “It helps the home fit in and blend materially with its neighbours,” she says. Additionally, its flat roof and modern massing were part of the architect’s plan to scale the home in accordance with its surrounding. “We kept it pretty low in profile at the end of the day,” says Fong. “The home has a relatively small footprint, so, in doing so, we made sure to create a space and place for everything, so that every inch of the home served a functional purpose.” The result positions Woodycrest as a prime example of Vanessa Fong Architect’s mission to holistically bring together architecture and design into spaces that look beautiful and function organically. VF-A.COM.



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