Dwell Article: A Compact Laneway House in Toronto Takes Back Underused Space

 
By Melissa Dalton

Following a new policy change that allows housing units in Toronto’s back lanes, LGA Architectural Partners builds a crisp, light-filled example.

Thanks to a policy change in the summer of 2018, Toronto is encouraging residents to build small abodes along back lanes that were previously dominated by garages, making room for people rather than cars. These laneway houses are self-contained and typically sit on the same lot as a detached house, semi-detached house, or townhouse.

Exterior, Metal Roof Material, Metal Siding Material, Small Home Building Type, Gable RoofLine, and House Building Type The College Laneway House by LGA Architectural Partners occupies a small footprint—just 1,450 square feet—where a dilapidated fishing lodge once stood. Its pitched roof blends in with adjacent buildings.
The College Laneway House by LGA Architectural Partners occupies a small footprint—just 1,450 square feet—where a dilapidated fishing lodge once stood. Its pitched roof blends in with adjacent buildings.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

 

“Toronto’s laneway by-law has the potential to improve the livability of our city while transforming lanes into neighborhood spaces,” says architect Brock James of LGA Architectural Partners.

The firm proves this theory with the recently completed College Laneway House. “College Laneway House addresses many of the typical challenges the upcoming wave of laneway houses will face,” says James. “It provides compact, yet spacious-feeling rooms; framed views and landscape elements that provide privacy; and windows and skylights that bring light in at all times of day.”

Exterior, House Building Type, Metal Siding Material, Gable RoofLine, Small Home Building Type, and Metal Roof Material A strip of clerestory windows brings in lots of natural light to the living room, while their high sills encourage privacy from the lane.

A strip of clerestory windows brings in lots of natural light to the living room, while their high sills encourage privacy from the lane.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

 
 
Exterior, Gable RoofLine, Small Home Building Type, Glass Siding Material, Wood Siding Material, Metal Roof Material, House Building Type, Metal Siding Material, and Flat RoofLine In order to maximize space, the architects utilized a split-level design that includes the living areas on the main level, two upstairs bedrooms, and a walk-out basement beneath the dining room. The wood siding was salvaged and restored from the previous building on-site, in order to bring warmth to the gray, seamed metal and reference the neighborhood's past.

In order to maximize space, the architects utilized a split-level design that includes the living areas on the main level, two upstairs bedrooms, and a walk-out basement beneath the dining room. The wood siding was salvaged and restored from the previous building on-site, in order to bring warmth to the gray, seamed metal and reference the neighborhood’s past.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

Living Room, Coffee Tables, Concrete Floor, Recessed Lighting, Sofa, and Chair The interior includes furnishings from Nirvana Home, Article, and Restoration Hardware. The open staircase with clear balustrades keeps sight-lines clear and uncluttered.

The interior includes furnishings from Nirvana Home, Article, and Restoration Hardware. The open staircase with clear balustrades keeps sight-lines clear and uncluttered.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

Dining Room, Storage, Table, Chair, Concrete Floor, Recessed Lighting, Shelves, and Bar The kitchen was sunk down a few steps to better define it from the rest of the living spaces. Built-in Douglas Fir cabinetry, courtesy of Built Work Design, maximizes storage. The custom Douglas Fir table is by ZZ Contracting.

The kitchen was sunk down a few steps to better define it from the rest of the living spaces. Built-in Douglas Fir cabinetry, courtesy of Built Work Design, maximizes storage. The custom Douglas Fir table is by ZZ Contracting.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

Kitchen, Refrigerator, Range, Range Hood, Wood Cabinet, Concrete Floor, Undermount Sink, Granite Counter, Accent Lighting, and Wood Backsplashe Sinking the kitchen floor let the architects optimize the glazing. The breakfast bar at the end of the room lets diners look out over the backyard, while the nearby freestanding cabinetry, designed by Built Work Design, offers streamlined storage that doesn't detract from the sight lines.

Sinking the kitchen floor let the architects optimize the glazing. The breakfast bar at the end of the room lets diners look out over the backyard, while the nearby freestanding cabinetry, designed by Built Work Design, offers streamlined storage that doesn’t detract from the sight lines.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

 
Bedroom, Night Stands, Bed, and Recessed Lighting In an upstairs bedroom, a generous skylight from Big Foot Windows and Doors expands the sense of space and increases the natural light.

In an upstairs bedroom, a generous skylight from Big Foot Windows and Doors expands the sense of space and increases the natural light.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc

 
Bath Room, Two Piece Toilet, Alcove Tub, Concrete Floor, Subway Tile Wall, Undermount Sink, Enclosed Shower, Engineered Quartz Counter, and Recessed Lighting There is a half bath on the main level and this full one upstairs, which also has a skylight and generous ceiling height, thanks to the pitched roof. Douglas Fir cabinetry keeps consistent with the rest of the house.

There is a half bath on the main level and this full one upstairs, which also has a skylight and generous ceiling height, thanks to the pitched roof. Douglas Fir cabinetry keeps consistent with the rest of the house.

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc


Project Credits:

Architect: LGA Architectural Partners  (@lga_ap)  / Builder: ZZ Contracting  / Structural Engineer: Moses Structural Engineers  /  Millwork: Built Work Design