Toronto, ON, CA
The Grace St residence is located in Toronto's vibrant "Little Italy" neighbourhood. In the 1920's houses were constructed more affordably as narrow lot semi-detached units sharing a common party wall and bounded by marginal side wall setbacks. As a result, the typology resulted in small frontages, poor natural light penetration and programmatic room partitions stacked along narrow corridors and straight run service stairs. As a relief, and as part of the European culture immigrants imported, the porch developed as an extended part of the home and invited interaction between public and private life.
In order to maximize light penetration the plan required the removal of interior partitions and blurring of programmatic spaces. New windows at the front rear and interior of the house, as well as a surgical skylight allow for natural light to penetrate the spaces in subtle and unexpected ways, creating soft shadowing and revealing new luminosity in the cool material palette. Traditionally enclosed, the stair now occupies the new space as both a sculptural focal point and functional connective element within the section. Lit from above, the delicately grained and painstakingly matched white oak stair is made radiant in the cool white and grey spaces.
The facade, now elegantly proportioned, and stringently tailored in glass and charcoal brick, still plays homage to the existing roof and floor lines of the neighbourhood vernacular. A new upper level glass terrace from the second bedroom and lower level entrance embrace and enhance urban living and create new opportunity for community engagement. So too does the existing raised porch entrance that is rearticulated as a layered experience made of expressive concrete that steps gracefully to grade. As a thickened threshold, the collective entirety of the facade functions as the receiver of guests, the welcomer of gossip and conversation, and active participant in urban street life on Grace.
Status: Under Construction
My Role: From Preliminary Design to Contract Admin
Additional Credits: Lead Architect - Lawrence Dodd