The House of Glass and Colour


Using principles of ecological design, a damaged building is transformed into a delightful award-winning residence in downtown Toronto.

Studio Innova owned the small building next door, and after an unfortunate episode where the building froze and was extensively damaged, Croteau and Brault chose to convert it into a live/work space, rather than tear it down. A design charrette with a handful of kindred spirits lead to a vision of what this small house could be using appropriate ecological principles and technologies. Architect David Fujiwara was retained for the project.

Above all, in the words of Greg Allen the house "had to bring delight to its residents".

It also had to maximize energy efficiency, make use of appropriate materials and finishes and minimize waste during construction. Furthermore, the solutions had to be realistic and practical since it would be rented to a tenant.

The existing character was preserved and much of the structure was reused. Noteworthy features include the provision of extensive natural light, the generous use of reclaimed wood, comfortable radiant heating provided by the domestic hot water tank, super-insulated windows framed in reclaimed douglas fur, natural finishes, and landscaped front yard. Even the front door was reclaimed from an old church.

The entire roof is covered with a wildflower meadow. Why? The meadow diverts rainwater away from storm sewers, keeps building warmer in winter, cooler in summer, protects the roof membrane, absorbs CO2, creates oxygen, provides food and habitat for insects and bird, straw for the local bird nests.

Where possible, materials were re-used (either from the site or an outside source, recycled, natural or with reduced impact. During construction, materials were sorted in bins or bundles and reused on-site or diverted for re-use or recycling. Organic waste was composted and used in the front yard plant beds. Very little waste went to landfill.

In 2005, the home received the Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence for residential design.


546 Richmond Street West, Toronto

Project Team:

Dianne Croteau, Richard Brault, David Fujiwara (architect), Greg Allen, Joann McCrann, Rob Green, Henry Zwanenburg, Janis Kravis, Jennifer Wright, David Orsini, Terry McGlade


copyright STUDIO INNOVA 2006