Brigitte Shim, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto and prin­ci­pal at Shim-Sut­cliffe Ar­chi­tects, shares why Toronto should pur­sue laneway hous­ing as part of the so­lu­tion.

Annex Post - - COVER STORY -

As an ar­chi­tect you've de­signed some im­pres­sive homes in mid­town, such as the In­te­gral House in Rosedale. What led you to choose a laneway in Les­lieville for your own home?

We wanted to build a modern house in the city. We saw value in a left­over par­cel of land — a derelict lot with six aban­doned cars — and felt it could be trans­formed and make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to its neigh­bour­hood. We ended up go­ing to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board for ap­provals. The lot is 17 feet wide by 106 feet long and the res­i­dence is 1,350 square feet. We have a lot of nat­u­ral light through a court­yard in the mid­dle of the house.

Can laneway homes help solve T.O.’s hous­ing short­age?

We be­lieve that laneway hous­ing is an un­tapped re­source in our city. It can­not solve all of our hous­ing prob­lems but can pro­vide an­other al­ter­na­tive way of liv­ing in our ur­ban core. In every neigh­bour­hood across our city, we need dif­fer­ent forms of hous­ing. This en­sures di­ver­sity, liv­abil­ity and en­ables hous­ing to re­spond to our chang­ing needs over our life­time.

What’s the big­gest chal­lenge?

The big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing laneway hous­ing is to see laneways as a re­mark­able piece of ur­ban in­fra­struc­ture es­tab­lished early on in Toronto’s his­tory. They en­able an in­cre­men­tal ur­ban­ism that al­lows for an in­cre­men­tal den­si­fi­ca­tion of our ur­ban core in a pos­i­tive way that strength­ens and sup­ports ex­ist­ing neigh­bour­hoods.

Brigitte Shim and her laneway home

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