Inside Job

written by:
photos by:
March 4, 2009
Originally published in Before & After

Designing an innovative house is a rite of passage 
for many young architects. But building in a city doesn’t always make experimentation easy; after all, neighbors have their own ideas about how a block is supposed to look.

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  A wide cut across the top of the structure made room for a second-floor courtyard where the family can catch some sun but maintain their privacy. On the ground level, the front door is tucked into an ivy-covered alcove lined with ipe, a material used throughout the house.
    A wide cut across the top of the structure made room for a second-floor courtyard where the family can catch some sun but maintain their privacy. On the ground level, the front door is tucked into an ivy-covered alcove lined with ipe, a material used throughout the house.
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  A 2002 photograph of the courtyard in progress.
    A 2002 photograph of the courtyard in progress.
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  Four-year-old Ian plays in the courtyard, which is the center of family life in warmer months.
    Four-year-old Ian plays in the courtyard, which is the center of family life in warmer months.
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  An outbuilding that belonged to the warehouse complex; today the same space holds the courtyard.
    An outbuilding that belonged to the warehouse complex; today the same space holds the courtyard.
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  Framing the interior.
    Framing the interior.
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  In the living room abundant daylight can pour in, but rain and snow keep a safe distance from the family’s well-loved collection of vintage furniture.
    In the living room abundant daylight can pour in, but rain and snow keep a safe distance from the family’s well-loved collection of vintage furniture.
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  Tan built storage into every available corner of the house, including the stairs, each of which contains a drawer.
    Tan built storage into every available corner of the house, including the stairs, each of which contains a drawer.
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  In the kitchen, wall-to-wall cabinets hold files from the adjacent home office in addition to storing servingware and kitchen appliances. The custom island shows off Tan’s craft. The range hood is wrapped in millwork, and the countertop is a 1-inch slab of solid plantation teak. When there’s no cooking going on, “the kitchen can just disappear” behind another piece of wood, Ho Ping Kong says.
    In the kitchen, wall-to-wall cabinets hold files from the adjacent home office in addition to storing servingware and kitchen appliances. The custom island shows off Tan’s craft. The range hood is wrapped in millwork, and the countertop is a 1-inch slab of solid plantation teak. When there’s no cooking going on, “the kitchen can just disappear” behind another piece of wood, Ho Ping Kong says.
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  Only a set of sliding doors separates the kids’ room from the master bedroom in a Toronto, Ontario, home. When the time is right, there's a track inlaid in the ceiling for a four-panel bifold wall to divide the space into two private rooms for the children. 

Read the whole story here.
    Only a set of sliding doors separates the kids’ room from the master bedroom in a Toronto, Ontario, home. When the time is right, there's a track inlaid in the ceiling for a four-panel bifold wall to divide the space into two private rooms for the children. Read the whole story here.
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  A photograph, taken in 2002, shows the warehouse in its original context.
    A photograph, taken in 2002, shows the warehouse in its original context.
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  In the hallway another set of sliders shows off a mix of influences from shoji to Schindler, with multitoned wood reflecting the sunlight.
    In the hallway another set of sliders shows off a mix of influences from shoji to Schindler, with multitoned wood reflecting the sunlight.
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  With windows looking out onto the second-story courtyard, the laundry/bathroom area has a custom-made and a picturesque view.
    With windows looking out onto the second-story courtyard, the laundry/bathroom area has a custom-made and a picturesque view.
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  The workshop is used for messy model-making and creative playtime for the kids.
    The workshop is used for messy model-making and creative playtime for the kids.
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  A photograph from 2002 shows the renovation in progress.
    A photograph from 2002 shows the renovation in progress.
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  The main courtyard is a “communal” space, Tan says, and the couple keeps a second teak dining set at the ready for occasions when family or friends come for a meal.
    The main courtyard is a “communal” space, Tan says, and the couple keeps a second teak dining set at the ready for occasions when family or friends come for a meal.
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  This warehouse on a back alley in Toronto wasn’t desirable to most buyers, but Christine Ho Ping Kong and Peter Tan looked at it and saw an ideal site for their new house.
    This warehouse on a back alley in Toronto wasn’t desirable to most buyers, but Christine Ho Ping Kong and Peter Tan looked at it and saw an ideal site for their new house.
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  A narrow garden and climbing ivy soften and brighten the house’s blank front facade.
    A narrow garden and climbing ivy soften and brighten the house’s blank front facade.
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