Once a blacksmith’s shop, then a horse shed and later an artist’s apartment and studio, this laneway building in Toronto was purchased by its current owners in 2006. Interested both in the character of the building and smaller footprint living, they wanted to convert it into single-family residence—while retaining as much of the character of the existing building as possible.
Located on a 40’x18’ lot, it is built to the property lines on 3 sides, with 2’ to spare on the fourth. Current zoning regulations don’t allow for additional openings in any of the walls, so the design strategy was to draw additional light, air and views from above. A light shaft topped by skylights runs the length of the west wall of the building, broken only by a courtyard on the second floor. The shaft brings light to the ground floor, and provides passive ventilation. On the second floor, a glass and wood wrapped courtyard separates the two bedrooms. From the courtyard, with its primary view to the sky, there is a small stair up to a roof garden.
The existing rusted steel cladding panels on the building were catalogued before they were removed. They were then brake-formed with a flat-lock seam and re-installed as the primary building skin. Black-stained knotty cedar clads the remainder of the building.