In the early 1960s Minto built a series of flat-roofed semi-detached houses in Parkwood Hills and Crystal Beach. They are scattered in a seemingly random manor throughout the streets of these areas next to detached houses. In total, approximately 32 pairs were built, with the majority in Parkwood Hills.
The designs are strikingly modern with large corner windows, vertical siding and are one of the only flat-roofed designs Minto built. Each unit has an open carport, which also doubles as the entry courtyard.
I have heard that these units were originally built as rentals until 1970 when they were sold.
A special thanks to a blog reader for sending me the floor plan a few months ago! It was a plan that I was missing from my collection, and it is now a delight to be able to see and share the design.
The floor plan is quite unique and is centred on the carport, which doubles as an entry courtyard. An opening in the roof lets light into this courtyard space and light into one of the bedrooms with high windows inside the carport. The bathrooms have clerestory windows which rise above the main roof plane and let light into these central rooms. The inclusion of an ensuite bathroom was not common at the time with semi-detached houses - setting this plan appart.
It is interesting to see how many of these units have been changed over time. One of the most common changes is the addition of skylights over the opening in the roof over the carport. The window configuration is another feature that has commonly been altered, with the large front floor-to-ceiling picture window often made smaller.
The upcoming research for my PhD will focus on how innovative architecture is altered by the homeowners - often more so compared to houses of a conservative design. This is certainly the case with the Ranchwood design, where nearly every single unit has been altered on the facade compared to when they were first built.
Below is a selection of images showing the changes made to the Ranchwood design.
In Crystal Beach:
The addition of a bay window is common to a handful of these houses. The right unit no longer has the side living room window on the carport side.
The windows have been changed on both sides of this pair - and the bay window on the right has been centred on the facade.
Notice the use of the carport as an outdoor sitting area in the left unit!
The floor-to-ceiling windows have been shortened on these units.
The updated windows on the left unit have kept the large openings intact.
In Parkwood Hills:
A few homeowners have chosen to build a peaked skylight over the carport - a great compliment to the flat roof.
A stone/brick facade has been added to the units shown both above and below.
It is possible that the windows on the left unit are original.
Below are examples of various changes to the original window configuration:
These windows appear to have been updated, but keep the original size/style.
Notice the skylight over the carport on the left unit.
I wonder what the original colour of the houses was when they were built? I do like the different colours for each side!
The left unit above and right unit below have added even larger windows - stretching across the entire front of the living room.
The Ranchwood design is somewhat akin to a rare flat-roofed detached house plan built by Teron in Beaverbrook (Kanata). The design is wider and has a detached garage, but the living room, dining room and kitchen layout, with the main entry on the side, is similar to the Ranchwood. Both plans have a screen separating the entry from the dining room. One of the most striking differences on the facade is the blank facade which faces the street in the Beaverbrook version.