Bennington Farmhouse / POST Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. Minutes from Toronto’s scenic Beltline Trail (an abandoned train route from the 1890s) sits a contemporary farmhouse in the Bennington Heights neighborhood of the city. The farmhouse is a sensitive architectural reconstruction of an old farmhouse on the property—beloved by the community.
The owners, who had lived in the original house for nearly two decades, needed more space, and the original structure was too frail to renovate. However, for sentimental reasons, the presence of the farmhouse proved to be important to the community and the owners. The thoughtful design strategy, proposed by Post Architecture, offered a solution.
The new-built home would pay a formal ode to the original: true to its predecessor in size and massing, a new two-story white gabled structure would sit in composition with sleek, flat-roofed additions on three sides. The high contrast design strategy would also extend to the material pallets, assigning soft, light-colored finishes to the gabled portion and dark, hard ones to the additions.
The architectural details further modernized the 2021 incarnation: the new white metal roof no longer overhangs the walls as traditional roofs would but instead ends flush with the white vertical boards of the wall cladding (separated by a minimal gutter on two sides); the new wood cladding is reminiscent of the painted pine boards of the original but was first charred with the Japanese Shou-sugi Ban technique for longevity, and then stained white as was in the former farmhouse.
To contrast the original white form, the new floor area was introduced through a series of discreet, black, steel-clad volumes of folded sheet metal in varying widths. The color, texture, and window treatment on the “additions” are visually different from the light cladding.
Inside, like the exterior, light-colored materials meet the soaring ceiling of the gabled structure; dark ones render the additions. A series of operable, linear windows and skylights help control the indoor temperature while welcoming natural light and views of the landscaped exterior into the home.
While Post Architecture worked with INLINE Design Construction to build the house and its interiors, STLA coordinated with Arbordale Landscaping and Moonstruck Lighting to create a functional, flexible and cozy outdoor space that is an extension of the architecture. The nod to the past, reinterpreted within a contemporary design language, continues with the landscape design, wrapped around the northwest side of the house.
Mixing native and non-invasive pollinator plants, the lush garden features some species that hold nostalgic meaning for the residents: scilla (blue squill), hydrangeas, serviceberries, and dogwoods.
These luscious plants create a welcoming front entry and a charming backdrop for the house while nestling the structure into the hilltop on which it is perched. The landscape design also reinforces minimalist details similar to those incorporated in the architecture with repeated patterns and contrasting colors. Designed for four seasons, the yard is adorned with a fire pit and a water feature, sitting amongst the low-maintenance plants for those starry winter nights or sunny summer days.