To escape the hustle and bustle of Toronto, a family of avid cyclists commissioned Williamson Chong Architects to build House in Frogs Hollow, an eco-conscious country retreat. Located in the hilly Grey Highlands, the 2,000 square foot home is submerged into the base of a hill to minimize energy consumption and to emphasize the building's connection with the landscape. The clients also spent months mapping and creating discreet mountain biking trails throughout the 100-acre property.
Surrounded by thick fields of native grasses, the House in Frogs Hollow is split into two overlapping volumes: an upper level clad in red-stained timber set above a concrete base submerged into the landscape. A long concrete wall extends from the base into the landscape to provide protection from the winter winds and shade for the outdoor patio. The large glazed south-facing wall at the end of the living room frames views to the outdoor patio and hilly landscape.
The staircase that connects the first floors’ communal spaces with the top floor’s three bedrooms is located behind an undulating timber screen. The architects created the sculptural piece by stacking thin layers of CNC-milled boards. The screen’s curves cast different patterns of shadows depending on the sun’s location. In addition to the screen, the architects also used wood throughout the modern home, from the window trim to the facade, to evoke a rustic and natural look.
The orientation of the house, location in the landscape, and passive ventilation eliminate the need for mechanical cooling. Under-floor heating and passive solar heat gain from the south-facing windows help warm the interior.
Images via Williamson Chong Architects