LIFE IN A LANEWAY
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.
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