A Century-Old Cottage Becomes a Two-Family Home That Fits Right Into Its Toronto Neighborhood


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Project Details:

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Architects: Rostami Atash Atelier

Structural Engineer: Haijun Li

Footprint: 2,100 square feet

From the Architect: «Shared housing in cities seems inevitable to provide multigenerational homes and affordable models of ownership for millennials. Looking for a suitable place to develop a prototype, we found the tiniest house on a block in Toronto’s east end with a beautiful backyard and room to grow. East York is an exemplary borough of Toronto equipped with a balance of city amenities and a strong connection to nature, and this house was a typical example of good proportions, solid bones, and natural finishes.

«We rearranged the layout in the existing house and optimized the addition in the back to provide enough room for two stacked units. The new sunken living room in the lower unit provides ample light, and the high ceilings in the upper unit bring in sunshine and cross ventilation. Large windows facing the rear of the lot carefully frame a seemingly endless row of backyards while avoiding any unwanted privacy concerns.

«As a principle, we aimed for as little waste as possible. The result is a balanced amalgamation of old and new, cheap and expensive, off-the-shelf and custom. Most of the furniture is refurbished Danish or Canadian midcentury modern or pieces we previously owned, complimented with custom light fixtures and handmade fabrics and rugs. Visual and sensory connection to natural materials is the main basis of the design palette. Wherever possible, we showcased the pure and natural beauty of stone, wood, and metal.»

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