14455 Woodbine Ave., Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ont.
Asking price: $5,998,000
Lot size: 200 by 257 feet
Agents: Kimberly Wake and Natasza Tyzler, Hammond International Properties
Architect Prithula Prosun Roy began her career working for some of Canada’s large architectural firms, where she designed a day school, a church and other institutional buildings. In 2016 she launched her own practice and began to focus on residential projects.
Two of her first clients were her parents, Sudhir Saha and Kalyani Sudhir.
The couple was living in Richmond Hill, Ont., but they wanted to build a large house surrounded by land. They were unable to find a suitably rural property in the area, so they moved their search farther north to Whitchurch-Stouffville.
About four years ago, the couple purchased a 1.3-acre parcel with a view of the rolling hills of the protected Oak Ridges Moraine. Zoning regulations permit commercial as well as residential use amid a mix of farms and industrial sites, Ms. Prosun Roy explains.
Ms. Prosun Roy’s design started around the concept of a central courtyard, reminiscent of houses in Bangladesh, where her parents were born.
“Courtyards were a very important concept within the vernacular architecture,” she says of their home country.
The couple wanted plenty of room for entertaining and visits from extended family, but they left the design to their daughter.
“They gave me creative control,” says Ms. Prosun Roy, who graduated in 2011 with a master of architecture degree from the University of Waterloo.
The house today
Ms. Prosun Roy created a house of more than 10,000 square feet, with rooms on one side of the courtyard meant for business and entertaining, and rooms on the other side devoted to family and privacy.
Visitors arrive to a foyer with a wall of greenery. A variety of plants improve the air quality and hidden irrigation keeps them healthy, Ms. Prosun Roy says.
A Bengali quote reproduced on the wall is a line from her parents’ favourite song. The words, by the late Manna Dey, translate as “The name that is written on the heart will remain forever.” Nearby, a feature wall is lined with colourful panels of Jamdani, a fine muslin textile woven in Bangladesh.
“It’s a personal touch for my parents and their history,” Ms. Prosun Roy says.
On the more public side of the home, a formal living room with a gas fireplace has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the street. The architect’s father, an immigration consultant, has a two-storey home office where he can meet with clients.
For guests, there’s a powder room overlooking a tiny outdoor garden. Privacy isn’t an issue because a patterned Corten steel screen outside hides the room from the outside while also allowing light to filter in.
The weathering steel panel also provides interest to the white stucco exterior of the house.
“I wanted it to age and rust,” Ms. Prosun Roy says. “It gets nicer through time.”
The use of wood on the exterior also prevents the façade from appearing monotonous, she explains.
At the rear, an edgeless indoor swimming pool and hot tub provides views of the landscape.
The more private side of the home is centred around a large kitchen and dining area on the main level, with access to the bedrooms on the second storey.
The main kitchen has built-in appliances and an oversized island with a marble top and waterfall sides. In order to make the room an inviting place to gather, Ms. Prosun Roy says, a secret passage leads to a separate butler’s kitchen hidden from view.
“That’s where all the kitchen prep and cooking takes place.”
The nearby family room also provides a spot for casual lounging.
Upstairs, the primary suite has a large bedroom and an expansive bathroom with a stand-alone tub, walk-in shower and doors that open to a rooftop terrace.
A chunk of black rock in the shower provides a place to sit and adds texture to a room of sleek, hard surfaces, says the architect.
“The rock kind of acts like a bench,” she says.
Throughout the house, the use of stone, greenery, wood and weathering steel adds warmth to the black and white interior, she says.
“Because it’s a very modern design, I like to bring in natural elements,” says Ms. Prosun Roy, who also lined walkways with river rocks both inside and out.
Ms. Prosun Roy says the home’s five bedrooms accommodate extended family, including her own two children, who love to run around the home’s open spaces.
Outside, the rear garden has a large patio and an outdoor kitchen.
Ms. Prosun Roy says the finished project reflects her parents’ modern lifestyle but also their traditions.
“It was a personal project for me for sure. It was important for me to have that connection to their history.”
The best feature
The home’s central courtyard is well-suited to the Canadian climate because it provides more year-round shelter than the typical front yard and backyard, says Ms. Prosun Roy.
Large expanses of glass bring natural light into the centre of the dwelling and allow a feeling of connection with the weather, even from the interior rooms.
“As it snows, as it rains, you see that through the house,” Ms. Prosun Roy says.
During parties in the warmer months, guests often spill out from the kitchen when the lift-and-slide doors are moved away to create an indoor-outdoor space.
On the opposite side of the courtyard, the same system allows residents to open the indoor swimming pool to the elements.
Ms. Prosun Roy says the courtyard, with a tranquil garden at the centre, provides a secluded spot for relaxation.
“It’s a lot more intimate because the house wraps around it,” she says. “You don’t have any neighbours looking in.”