a new form of Urban infill
The greater Toronto Area (GTA) is currently forecast to increase in population by 2.5 million people by 2031. This type of growth, in combination with the Province of Ontario’s recent ‘greenbelt’ measures, will create a great deal of pressure to accommodate these numbers in non-greenfield sites. Inevitably, the focus of future development will have to shift from geographic expansion to the densification and intensification of the existing urban fabric and infrastructure. How this intensification of neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto will affect their current character is of growing concern, especially in the large number of neighbourhoods composed predominantly of single family homes. Currently, there are very few models that address infill housing; the offerings are at complete opposite ends of the housing spectrum – condos or houses/townhomes.
This project seeks to be a prototype for a new form of urban infill housing. Internally, it combines the open and modern spaces of the loft/condo building with the intimate and personal scale of the single family home, while respecting and enriching the texture of existing low-to-medium density urban surroundings.
The site for this infill housing project is located in a neighbourhood established in the late 19th century. The program for the building was to create three self-contained rental units of varying size. The design challenge was to fit this into a narrow lot and integrate a contemporary structure into the fabric of an historic neighbourhood.
Due to the fact the interior width was only 15’, the design was thought through mainly in section. In keeping with the existing pedestrian streetscape, the living spaces are located towards the street. Here, the dwelling is divided into three floors, allowing for a large 12’ high space at the front of each unit. Also in keeping with the existing pattern, the living spaces open onto balconies that overlook the street. The front facade has maximum glazing in order to take advantage of the high ceilings and bring in as much natural light as possible. The rest of the street facade uses traditional red clay brick typical of Toronto homes. Horizontal cedar strips clad the balconies and soffits, contrasting with the tall, narrow elevation. A continuous vertical strip of translucent insulated panel unites the facade into a single composition.
The rear of the building is divided into four floors of lesser ceiling height and contains the bedrooms and baths. The middle zone where the varying floor levels meet are where the semi private spaces are located. The carefully interlocked units occupy the overall volume with various heights and levels, giving a diverse range of unique interior spaces.
The interior spaces are kept open and flexible; walls are used only to separate bedrooms and baths, while bookshelves are used for half-walls and guards. Spaces are demarcated by cabinetry and level changes. Interior finishes are kept simple, clean, and natural with durable materials used throughout. Floors are made of slate, local hardwood and cork. The three units comprise a total floor area of 3,600 square feet. All of this was accomplished at no cost premium over the customary gamut of banal alternatives.