Laneway House by Kohn Shnier Architects

Many cities have extensive networks of back lanes; sometimes the garages and service buildings evolve into houses. In Toronto, architects have been trying for years to develop back lane housing; there is so much opportunity to increase density and safety. Unfortunately in this case "not in my backyard" can be taken literally, and it rarely happens. When it does, it is usually a renovation of a pre-existing condition, like this renovation by Kohn Shnier Architects, known to Treehuggers as the designers of the Q series of modern prefabs. The entire lot is 26 by 40 feet, yet it packs in a parking space, a bicycle storage level over the garage, and room for a family of four.

It is an upside down, or "French Farmhouse" plan where the bedrooms are downstairs and the living spaces above. Beth Kapusta of Canadian Architect says:

"the living spaces are located on the second floor in an almost shockingly open, airy urban tree house whose windows--cut out of the main volume of the site's almost square footprint--create a long diagonal dimension and a sense of light from all directions. The complex three-dimensional puzzle is triumphantly resolved by the clever placement of the family bathroom at the half-level of the stair, hovering over the garage below and tucked in under the kitchen counter above."

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