Ritchie House

Brockton Village, Toronto

A former auto-body shop, flanked by a railway line and a supermarket parking lot, provided the basis for a highly original home with an artistic and ecological sensibility.

 

Turning this industrial garage into a home was an attractive prospect, with its footprint, open floor plate, high ceilings and expansive windows and doors. But there were also challenges including cleaning up its contaminated soil and finding ways to create ideal spaces for living within an industrial context.

We designed the interior plan to strategically shut out the auditory and visual noise of the city by nestling bedrooms into one corner. Skylights and “sun tunnels” draw natural light into areas where there are no external windows. We raised the bedrooms and bathrooms on a platform, creating domestic ceiling heights as well as much-needed storage underneath. By contrast, the kitchen, dining and living rooms, forming an “L” around the perimeter, are bathed in sunlight and feature strategic views of the gardens through oversized windows that were once the garage doors. A second storey addition creates a large open studio space for artistic work and musical jam sessions, and a roof garden creates the impression that the house is floating in a field while also stabilizing the temperature and air quality of the house.

The house is also accented by charming elements that express the homeowner’s artistic talents. For example, they created a wall around the living room fireplace with weathered steel panels reclaimed from the site, and an unusually shaped concrete bathtub fitted to their proportions. 

Outside, the former brownfield site is now richly planted with a vegetable garden, an orchard, and native plants and grasses. It also includes an outdoor dining room, a fountain plunge pool, and a sauna.

The Toronto residence of Debbi Adams and Peter Fleming offers a glimpse of a more modest but very livable future: a 185 square-metre space where nothing is wasted and nothing seems to be missing.

-Alex Bozikovic, Azure

Awards

2005 Design Exchange DX Award
2010 HISE Award

Media

Toronto Life – (August 2021) This couple converted a Roncesvalles auto body shop into their dream home
Dwell – (April 2010) From Brown to Green
ArchDaily – (April 2011) Adam Flemming House
House & Home – Converted Warehouse Tour
Azure – (June 2009) Putting their House in Order
House & Home – (May 2009) Reform Cool