Beech Ave House

Toronto, Ontario

Efficient, clean design and simple, modern spaces went hand in hand with wheelchair accessibility for this modest 2,200 sq. ft. house. This project was designed to be an accessible house that maintained the intimate feel of a family home.

While planning for wheelchair access was a fundamental part of the design process, the creation of a comfortable family home was the ultimate goal. This house was to be equally appropriate for children as it would be for an occupant in a wheelchair. More than being simply accessible, it was intended to be an example of good, universal design and a model for the creation of living spaces that will function for generations.

The house is sited on an urban lot on Beech Avenue in Toronto’s The Beaches neighbourhood. The site slopes steeply upward from the street in front, and is also accessed from a lane at the rear. The massing of the house (volume and shape) is governed by views, the requirement to protect mature trees, and the orientation of sunlight. Aligned east-west, the main enclosure extends to the north side of the property to create a sunny, courtyard-style outdoor space directly connected to the living and dining areas.

“We tried to design everything with universal design principles. It means it’s good for everyone, not just someone in a wheelchair or walker.”

“Toronto, a Home That Lends a Helping Hand”

– The Globe and Mail

A windowed double-height dining room suggests a transparent division between the public spaces at the front and the private spaces at the rear of the lot. A generous front porch extends the living spaces toward the street, and bonds the house to the eclectic nuances of the neighbourhood. The house tucks neatly into the existing canopy of trees, lessening the impact on the existing streetscape.

Vertically, the floor plates are organized around a stair and elevator configuration, whereby both routes arrive at the same landings.

Two bedrooms face the rear yard, and a bridge over the kitchen area extends to the master bedroom suite. High operable windows in the double-height space, centered over the kitchen and dining areas, create natural stack-effect ventilation. Generous spaces and fluid circulation routes contribute to the flexibility and accessibility of the house.

The selection of finishes achieves a modern aesthetic and meets the technical requirements of accessible spaces. The main floor is polished concrete with radiant, in-floor heating, while the upper level has bamboo flooring throughout. Flush door thresholds and large sliding doors seamlessly mesh interior and exterior spaces.

“Residents in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood may have been upset about plans to tear down a 100-year-old house to make way for a new ultra-modern design, but it’s hard to argue with the results. . . Architecture is there to serve the people who live in it, not the other way around.”

“Controversial Toronto Beach House Will Make You Jealous”

– Huffington Post

Careful millwork design, plumbing fixture selection, and advanced lighting and control systems with iPhone/iPad connectivity contribute to ease of living. This house accommodates the needs of a growing family while seamlessly integrating wheelchair accessibility.