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Shedding Light on the Victorian Era in Toronto

Jessica Evans
07 May 2019

The Galley House challenges conventional notions typical of a semi-detached, Victorian era home, by providing a new rear entry hub, internal connectivity, and abundant natural light within a two-storey volume addition.

Reigo & Bauer's client desired to convert their home, in Toronto's Roncesvalles neighbourhood, into a livable and beautiful space to suit their family's lifestyle. Merike Bauer and Stephen Bauer explained how they approached that through "reconsidering two primary elements: the pattern of circulation into the house and access to natural light."

The subtle tilt of one the upper walls in the dining room, along with the cut-away in the second floor, enables the large window above to act as a skylight, immersing the dining area below with natural light. Although this key feature is unexpected in Toronto's Victorian-era homes, it speaks to Reigo & Bauer's ongoing studies of lighting all parts of a home with daylight.

In addition to addressing core elements of the home’s internal redesign, the partners’ use of innovative materials and architectural design elements ensure the addition’s external façade both contrasts and compliments its neighbouring environment.

The natural light reflects off the white, smoothly curved walls which is delicately offset with subtle sculptural design elements. The newly expanded views from the tilt of the wall and the window provides light throughout the upper floor.

On the main level, freestanding volumes of wall divide spaces to give 'a sense of inter-connectivity', whilst the back of the main level leads to a dropped oversized landing which connects the main level to the grade and basement. The extra 3 feet given by the dropped level allows for expanded views to the backyard from the main floor through the floor-to-ceiling glass.

An open mud room is tucked in beside the stairwell with diamond mesh railings to discretely obscure the coat storage without hindering the outside view.

The house is roughly 20 feet as it's widest point, with it's narrowest point, the extension at the back, being only 16 feet across.

“Given those parameters, we put a lot of thought into architectural elements that would not only achieve a modern look for the extension, but would also capture sunlight efficiently while mitigating shadows and reflections cast on and from neighbouring spaces.”

Seeking a contemporary complement to the 'traditional brick façades' of the existing home, Reigo & Bauer chose a unit-based cladding for the exterior to serve the same principle, but through black and white diamond-shaped metal tiles. Rather than give the impression of one single overarching façade, the two tones effectively highlight the volumes as stacked layers. Not only are they distinguished by their contrasting colours, they are subtly distinctive by their geometry. The reading of the two stacked volumes are reinforced by the offset from the slight slope of the upper side window wall, which is mirrored below in an outstanding variance from square in the side and rear walls.

To complete the addition, a sundeck on the roof of the extension was designed with light industrial fencing to embrace the aspect of transparency within the project.

Reigo & Bauer was founded in 2005 by Merike and Stephen Bauer. They pursue a subtle combination of minimalism and levity, following their guiding principle to embrace instinctive and intellectual design aspects. To find out more, click here.

Project Details

Project Name: Galley House

Location: Toronto Ontario

Area: 2,150 sf ( 200 m2)

Completion: 2018

Architecture & Interiors: Reigo & Bauer

Design Team: Stephen Bauer, Merike Bauer, Fabian Grieco

Structural Engineer: Blackwell

Construction: JH Reynolds Contracting