Award-winning laneway house in Summerhill

Carol W Photography / Carol W Photography

40R Shaftesbury Ave., Toronto

The question about the price: $1,398,000

Taxes: $7722.23 (2022)

big size: 20- at 42 feet

Client: Heather Harris, Lauren Walker and Todd Skinner, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.

Drama

In 2006, artist Elena Soni and psychiatrist Jorge Soni purchased a compact building in a back lane in Toronto’s historic Summerhill neighborhood.

The dilapidated structure began as a blacksmith’s shop in the Victorian era, when workers serviced the nearby North Toronto Railway Station. The building has served as a horse stable, a taxi dispatching office, and a direct-working studio for metal workers over the years.

Sonis brought in Superkul Architects to design a small single-family dwelling that would preserve elements of the shed’s legendary past.

The architects faced a set of challenges in taking on the pioneering project: Toronto’s bylaws were not friendly to highway development at the time. The structure was also built directly on the property line on three sides of the very narrow plot.

Regulations prevented architects from creating additional openings in the walls, but they were allowed to add height. This strategy allowed them to bring in light, air, and views from above.

Neighbors on the adjacent property had access to their own garage, so the second floor was cantilevered over the first to make room for car traffic.

Superkul’s partners, Meg Graham and Andre D’Elia, went on to win numerous accolades for their transformation of the laneway home, including the Canadian Green Building Award and the Ontario Association of Architects Award for Excellence in Design in 2012.

In 2021, photographer Erin Hayden O’Neill, and Leo Gomez-Clas, filmmaker and design maker, become the new owners of 40R Shaftesbury Ave.

home today

The detached house offers 850 square feet of living space in rooms configured to be “narrow as a ship,” Ms. Graham told the Globe and Mail when the project was completed.Carol W Photography / Carol W Photography

Ms. Hayden O’Neill and Mr. Gomez Claes were drawn to the contemporary architecture and industrial atmosphere of the two-story residence.

“Leo and I are drawn to anything a little alternative,” says Ms. Hayden O’Neill, referring to the couple’s background in the arts.

The property has also been provided with a relatively affordable entrance into the upscale Summerhill neighborhood, says Mr. Gomez Claes.

The detached house offers 850 square feet of living space in rooms configured to be “narrow as a ship,” Ms. Graham told the Globe and Mail when the project was completed.

The main floor has a kitchen open to the living and dining area. According to Soberkell, a light shaft surmounted by operable skylights runs the entire length of the west wall, interrupted only by a second-floor patio. The column brings light to the ground floor while providing passive ventilation.

“It’s always bright all day,” says Ms. Hayden O’Neill.

Architects redesigned an existing iron door, covered in graffiti, as a screen that slides through the glass of the ground floor facing the side road.

Upstairs, the two bedrooms – each with an en suite bathroom – have built-in wardrobes to maximize storage space.

To enhance privacy, the bedrooms are separated by a wood-lined patio.

External metal stairs lead to the rooftop, where residents can relax on a secluded deck in the treetops. Another part is covered with a green roof.

Mr. Gomez-Clas says the home’s environment offers plenty of privacy, with an atmosphere more like a courtyard than a side road.

The metro is nearby, he points out, and the entrance to the belt track is a few minutes’ walk away.

best feature

In their description of the project, the architects describe how the metal was treated and re-installed as the building’s primary skin.Carol W Photography / Carol W Photography

The exterior cladding was a mixture of different materials that had been hammered over decades. Superkul stripped the detritus away but made sure to salvage the rusty steel panels and grade their location on the building.

In their description of the project, the architects describe how the metal was treated and re-installed as the building’s primary skin. To contrast the warm tones of metal, they added wood stained in a calm black color.

Your home is the most valuable thing you own. our weekly real estate newsletter To help you stay up-to-date with housing market news, mortgages, the latest closings, and more. Register today.

Leave a Comment