College Street Laneway House

Harbord Village, Toronto

Laneway Housing FAQs

College Laneway House provides compact, yet spacious-feeling rooms; framed views and landscape elements that provide privacy; and windows and skylights that bring light in at all times of day.

This project transformed a dilapidated two-storey laneway building into a contemporary residential rental property. The client, a contractor and property manager whose family owns the single family home at the front of the lot, worked closely with the architects throughout the complex construction process.

The renovation slightly predates a 2018 Toronto City Council planning and zoning by-law amendment that eased restrictions on developing laneway suites in some parts of the urban core. Under the regulations then in place, it was necessary to submit a design that would be approved as-of-right (no variances required). This involved meeting requirements to retain 50 percent of the existing structure and maintain the roofline; there were also restrictions on creating new openings in the envelope. Further complicating the project was the building’s poor structural condition, which required suspension for foundation reconstruction.’

Within the structure’s fixed shell and compact footprint, the new interior generates a sense of spaciousness by linking together split levels. The main entry is from the garden. What was once a crawlspace is now a sunken kitchen, situated a half-floor below grade. Douglas fir millwork—an integration of steps and storage units —connects the kitchen to the open, at-grade living-dining area. Accordion doors in the continuous, full-height glazing retract to allow the living space to extend out into the garden.

The careful positioning of a window band along the house’s more enclosed laneway facade affords residents privacy while also providing views. Two upstairs bedrooms nestle into the house’s pitched roof and the surrounding canopy of mature trees. Strategic window placement harnesses cross-breezes and promotes stack-effect venting via operable skylights.

“It is remarkably bright and well-planned—a beautiful house by any standard. . . . There’s no doubt that this is a bespoke building, created with thoughtful architecture, high-quality materials and excellent workmanship.”

— Alex Bozikovic, The Globe and Mail, October 12, 2018


Dwell – (November 2018) A Compact Laneway House in Toronto Takes Back Underused Space
Globe & Mail – (October 2018) A bright, crisp example of Toronto laneway living
Wallpaper – (June 2019) A thriving architecture scene rises in Toronto
Designlines – (April 2019) The Laneway House that Harbord Village Built in Toronto