Situated in the heart of Leslieville, this Toronto home celebrates both the area’s industrial past and its family-centred future. The house stands as a prime example of how maintaining the contrast and variation in architectural styles is keeping the relaxed, yet edgy, atmosphere alive in the community. In recent years, Leslieville’s relaxed, low-key atmosphere, great restaurants, shops and easy access to public transit has attracted many young families, and its edginess has kept property prices within their reach. The result is a recipe for community founded on minimalism and individuality.
The Phoenix house sits on a narrow lot surrounded by a mixture of century-old restorations, 1960’s vinyl-clad renovations, and modern infill housing. The home’s cantilevered massing and vibrant corten steel cladding stand-out unabashedly from its immediate neighbours and add to the overall character and colour of the existing streetscape.
The overall design is based on the interplay between three volumes. The first storey, a volume clad in charred cedar that follows the original footprint of the house, was redesigned with cooking and entertaining in mind. A bi-fold door system eliminates the boundary between kitchen and patio and allows the interior space to expand seamlessly into the private courtyard at the rear. The corten-clad second and third floor volume contains the private living and sleeping areas and is cantilevered over the ground floor to add much needed floor space. An 18-foot curtain wall “collage” faces north towards the street allowing indirect light to fill the spaces. At the rear of the house, a south-facing roof deck caps off the kitchen and bedroom volume and acts as a private outdoor retreat for the master suite.
Throughout the house, the materials were chosen with the aim of minimizing required maintenance and maximizing enjoyment. Wood and steel are used on the exterior for their natural preservative qualities and ability to age gracefully. Light, shadow, and the movement of people animate the minimalist spaces within, lending an ever-changing lens through which to appreciate the spaces. A product of both its surroundings and the lifestyle of its inhabitants, Phoenix house balances individuality with community, raw with refined, and stands as a sign of new life and new beginnings in a rapidly-evolving Toronto neighbourhood.