Williamson Williamson - There is something poetic about the way his vibrant piece has been incorporated into the home as a visual guide: Garden Avenue Laneway House
  1. Home
  2. Award 2023
  3. House
  4. There is something poetic about the way his vibrant piece has been incorporated into the home as a visual guide: Garden Avenue Laneway House

There is something poetic about the way his vibrant piece has been incorporated into the home as a visual guide: Garden Avenue Laneway House

Williamson Williamson

House  /  Completed
Williamson Williamson

In 2018, Toronto City Council began permitting Laneway Suites, enabling the city to increase density in transit-accessible neighborhoods with minimal intervention. The Garden Laneway House is a four-bedroom home located in the backyard of another house. Whereas most of the Laneway Suites built are bonus rooms that add amenity and area to a main house, this was designed to be a Primary Residence. The kitchen, dining and living space are on the top level which has the largest floorplate and the best light. Bedrooms for three teen boys are nested on the ground floor and a large basement space contains a primary bedroom lit with a large lightwell. During construction, the main house was converted into a legal two-unit Principal Rental, allowing for three families on a single-family lot.

The family uses the laneway as their front door. The entrance is recessed under a carport canopy ensuring privacy from the cars that access the garages surrounding the home. The facades facing the street and the laneway are primarily solid, reinforcing the desire for privacy from the laneway and the rear windows of the adjacent house.

The volume of the home is maximized to the zoning envelope, so rotated bricks provide a secondary scale of playful massing. The pattern breaks up the solid facade and as the sun moves around the house, the shadows change shape. This is not a utilitarian building on a laneway, but one that has presence and enlivens the laneway as a traditional home does a street.

To reduce the ecological footprint, energy consumption was decreased through key moves. First and foremost, three families are now living on a single-family lot, increasing density in an established neighbourhood. Triple-pane windows compliment the highly insulated envelope and zone-specific radiant floor heating and cooling systems. Clay bricks were used to clad the system-based structure which consisted of light steel iSpan joists and insulated concrete form (ICF) foundation walls. These systems - mostly used in commercial construction reduced material weight while increasing durability and the lifespan of the home. We are currently measuring the energy used in the first year to calculate the actual EUI.

Ascending the open-tread staircase to the second level, the space unfolds into a bright and open living area. The kitchen, dining and living space are located here with windows and skylights that capture light from every direction. A tall south-facing window connects the laneway house back to Garden Avenue. A four-metre-wide sliding window faces north at the dining table and views the canopies of neighboring trees. A west facing clerestory window tops the kitchen backsplash while light from above is filtered through both a sculptural skylight above the dining table and a large operable skylight above the stair to the roof garden.

In the below-grade space, the primary bedroom is tucked away into a private enclave that features a tranquil atmosphere complete with a spa-like ensuite and walk-out underground garden. A large, recessed light, positioned above the king-size bed reproduces the essence of a skylight and streamlined custom millwork provides an abundance of storage.

A light gray trapezoidal balustrade and open-tread stair connects the roof to the below-grade level, allowing the roof-top skylight to filter light down through the house.

This passion project evolved into a unique, functional, family home that reimagines the possibilities for laneway properties and small-scale urban densification. This home effectively mitigates the downside that is commonly associated with laneway homes such as limited space, lack of privacy and unappealing sightlines.

Selecting art for the home created by artists in the neighbourhood was as important as the architecture. Peter Owusu-Ansah, a Ghanaian-born, Deaf visual artists based in Toronto, believes that we can communicate through our eyesight without words. There is something poetic about the way his vibrant piece has been incorporated into the home as a visual guide that draws you through the corridor and gently leads you towards the upper floor.


 Suzanne and Jeff Wilkinson
 214 mq
 Williamson Williamson Inc.
 Suzanne Wilkinson Interiors Inc.
 Wilkinson Construction Services Inc.
 Atkins + Van Groll, faet lab
 Scavolini, Belden Brick, Velux, Dayliter, Grohe, Duravit, Franke, iSPan, Nudura
 Scott Norsworthy


WILLIAMSON WILLIAMSON is an award winning and internationally recognized architecture practice established in Toronto by Betsy and Shane Williamson in 2007. Our portfolio includes work ranging from master plans to furniture, all of which reflect a careful attention to detail regardless of scale or budget. Accordingly, we take great pride in our working relationships with clients, consultants, contractors, trades, and suppliers respective of our design approach that privileges contextual specificity and sustainable building strategies.

Our work has been published widely including Architecture, Architectural Record, Azure, Canadian Architect, Domus, Dwell, I.D., and Metropolis and has been exhibited at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC; the Municipal Center for the Arts, New York, NY; Mercer Union, Toronto; Design Exchange, Toronto, ON; I-Space Gallery, Chicago, IL; the Urban Center, New York, NY; and the Corkin Gallery, Toronto, ON.



#Finalist #Concrete  #Brick  #Wood  #Residence  #Wood Cladding  #Toronto  #Bricks façade  #Clay bricks  #Bricks  #Ontario  #BIM  #Williamson Williamson 

© Maggioli SpA • THE PLAN • Via del Pratello 8 • 40122 Bologna, Italy • T +39 051 227634 • P. IVA 02066400405 • ISSN 2499-6602 • E-ISSN 2385-2054
ITC Avant Garde Gothic® is a trademark of Monotype ITC Inc. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and which may be registered in certain other jurisdictions.