Galley House

Situated on a long, narrow ‘leftover’ lot, the Galley House occupies a once-neglected site – its basic lot configuration having not matched a desirable parcel in the mind of the market. The aim was to consider the project for the Galley House prototypically: how a new, slender detached housing type in Toronto can be viable in terms of square footage while not shortchanging itself on natural light. The attempt to re-use leftover lots by re-forming typologies is hoped to be a sound, healthy approach to building in the North American city – especially within a city that may already appear dense enough and where buildable lots are seemingly unavailable.

The clients were dealt with a long, narrow urban-infill site, just west of Toronto’s downtown core, on a side residential street where lots are typically 25’ wide, almost double in width the lot occupied by the Galley House. The original, existing house had been in a delapidated state, sitting on the market for several years.  The open site, once cleared, resembled a regular lane access route to the back alley. The aim was to create a well-configured space, complete with views and a healthy sequence of spaces.

The Galley House is a three-storey single-family dwelling 62’ long with a clear width dimension of less than 12’.  It includes three bedrooms, with a double-height family room which opens to the street while offering natural light to penetrate deep into the house. The house has 2,400 s.f. of space, and opens to the north with a sunken garden court extending from a 13’ high kitchen space through a pivot-window/back door combination.

The stairs were custom designed, and were configured in response to the ‘slimmer’ allowances for stair openings and the ambition to allow more light into the house. The guard and handrail details, as such, were a product of the tight, urban conditions. The front stair facing the street is formed from 3/8” thick laser-cut steel plates with a billowing underside to provide light into the living room below – while shaping supply air toward the glass from the column beneath. The same stair also provides a structural brace to laterally support the fully-glazed upper front elevation. A light scoop was introduced over the kitchen to avoid direct exposure to the neighbours – for fire and privacy reasons – while allowing light to diffuse evenly through the space. In many ways, the constraints within the city and within the Galley House provided an opportunity for the urban detail.