Beech Ave House
While planning for wheelchair access was a fundamental part of the design process, the creation of a comfortable family home was the ultimate goal. This house was to be equally appropriate for children as it would be for an occupant in a wheelchair. More than being simply accessible, it was intended to be an example of good, universal design and a model for the creation of living spaces that will function for generations.
The house is sited on an urban lot on Beech Avenue in Toronto’s The Beaches neighbourhood. The site slopes steeply upward from the street in front, and is also accessed from a lane at the rear. The massing of the house (volume and shape) is governed by views, the requirement to protect mature trees, and the orientation of sunlight. Aligned east-west, the main enclosure extends to the north side of the property to create a sunny, courtyard-style outdoor space directly connected to the living and dining areas.
A windowed double-height dining room suggests a transparent division between the public spaces at the front and the private spaces at the rear of the lot. A generous front porch extends the living spaces toward the street, and bonds the house to the eclectic nuances of the neighbourhood. The house tucks neatly into the existing canopy of trees, lessening the impact on the existing streetscape.
Two bedrooms face the rear yard, and a bridge over the kitchen area extends to the master bedroom suite. High operable windows in the double-height space, centered over the kitchen and dining areas, create natural stack-effect ventilation. Generous spaces and ﬂuid circulation routes contribute to the ﬂexibility and accessibility of the house.
The selection of ﬁnishes achieves a modern aesthetic and meets the technical requirements of accessible spaces. The main ﬂoor is polished concrete with radiant, in-ﬂoor heating, while the upper level has bamboo ﬂooring throughout. Flush door thresholds and large sliding doors seamlessly mesh interior and exterior spaces.