Garden Laneway House

The Garden Laneway House is set between garages that face a service lane. It is a lyrical collection of modern lines, authentic materials, and intentional views. Clad in a rotated brick facade, it brings beauty to the laneway and reimagines the possibilities for small-scale urban densification.

Toronto recently began permitting Laneway Suites, providing an opportunity for property owners to unlock value in their backyards while encouraging increased density. This 4-bedroom home accommodates a family of five who wanted to connect to the neighbourhood, have ample living spaces and create light-filled bedrooms. They also turned the existing home into a duplex, transforming the property from a single-family into a three-family lot. This project provides inspiration for new solutions to the ever-present housing crisis by increasing access to well established neighborhood communities.

This home mitigates the downsides that are commonly associated with laneway homes such as limited space, lack of privacy and unappealing sightlines. It was constructed with a small footprint, modest floor-to-ceiling heights, and a tight envelope, creating a home that is efficient to heat, cool, and maintain. The family uses the laneway as their front door. The entrance is recessed under a carport canopy clad in charred cedar, ensuring privacy from the cars that access the garages surrounding the home. Animating the brick breaks up the primarily solid facades with pattern and shadow. The rotated bricks create triangular shadows on the flat course below, creating a three-dimensional pattern. Given that the volume of the home is maximized to the outer limits of its zoning envelope, the rotated bricks provide a secondary scale of playful massing.

Programmatically, the house is flipped upside-down. The primary suite is on the lowest floor, lit with a large lightwell. The teenager’s bedrooms are on the ground floor while the living spaces are on top with picturesque views of the neighbouring treetops.

We produced this project though a true collaboration with Suzanne Wilkinson and Jeff Wilkinson, who are both the owners as well as the interior designer and builder. Photographs are by Scott Norsworthy.