GEMINI House is a collaboration in low-energy retrofit research between the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, led by Professors Kim Pressnail and Russell Richman. The project explores new approaches to low-energy housing, with the added complexity of being executed within an 1880s Second Empire-style masonry home. ERA is the architect-of-record and has provided both heritage consulting and design for the project.
The GEMINI NTED™ approach achieves a high-performance envelope which thermally isolates a building into two zones: “core” and “periphery.” The core space comprises rooms expected to be in daily use (kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom), and will therefore be heated on a daily basis in cooler months. The periphery spaces (formal dining room, guest bedroom, basement) are kept at a minimal level of heat, but can be warmed on demand.
The challenge in this project was to conserve the heritage fabric of this historic property, to provide a livable contemporary interior for the resident, and to interpret on the interior some of the engineering at play. In addition to the above design challenges, more conventional conservation work has included restoration of exterior historic polychrome brickwork, the refurbishment of original windows on the primary elevation, and the restoration of a highly ornamental period plaster ceiling in the dining room.