Located in Toronto’s Beach area, this small three-storey semi-detached house was divided into separate apartments and deficient in natural light. Only13 feet across at its widest point, the project challenge was to return the house to a single family residence, enhance natural light, and expand the living space without increasing the footprint of the house. The design solution abandons conventional rooms for open spaces, divided by built-in furniture and translucent partitions, and employs various means to draw natural light into the heart of the house. On the ground floor, an open plan is delineated by a new central open-riser stair, which divides the living and dining rooms while allowing views between them. The stair, defined by clear acrylic partitions and paired with a generous overhead skylight, cuts through and illuminates the centre of the house like an internal lantern.
On the second floor the open stairwell passes through a spacious family room, which draws activity to the centre of the home while also finding a more generous living space than the ground floor could allow. Transom windows above the bedroom doors filter light into the hallway, further amplifying natural light in the interior. The stairwell terminates on the third floor with an overhead skylight in the open master bedroom suite, creating a light-filled private retreat for the owners. Passive cooling and natural ventilation are maximized through the use of operable windows and skylight, an open plan, and open stair risers, critical in a three-storey home without air conditioning. The optimization of natural light conditions also results in lower energy consumption through the reduced need for artificial lighting. The resulting illuminated interiors provide a fresh and highly functional solution for urban family living with a smaller environmental footprint.