After long admiring Toronto–based Atelier RZLBD’s contemporary infill projects from afar, Sage Shujan, owner of the construction firm Sage Building Ideas, finally saw an opportunity to collaborate. In 2016, he approached architect and Atelier RZLBD founder Reza Aliabadi with an idea to transform a nondescript, two-story building in Toronto’s Scarborough Junction into a creative and contemporary home that can adapt to different lifestyles over time.
The soft costs, which included design and consultant fees, city permits, and utilities, totaled $108,500 CAD (or about $80,720 USD), while construction costs amounted to $599,999.42 CAD (about $446,378 USD).
Demolition & Excavation
Toilet & Fence Rental
Footing Foundation & Forming
Fence & Deck
Spray Foam Insulation
Drywall, Taping & Finishing
Interior Trim Works & Doors
Entry Front Door
Washer & Dryer
|Grand Total: $599,999.42 CAD|
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The design brief also called for an airy and light-filled environment, an atmosphere that at first seemed at odds with the narrow and relatively shallow 25-foot lot. The site was further constrained by an east-west orientation that only allowed for limited sunlight to filter through the front and rear, as well as local by-laws that forbid windows from being installed on the side elevations.
To maximize access to natural light, Aliabadi turned the house into "an apparatus to harness light." The home is centered on a central staircase that funnels light into the house from a large skylight above, while two large windows on the front take in morning light. Resembling two eyes, the windows give the dwelling its name, Gazing House.
In addition to bringing daylight into the home, the central staircase also serves as an organizational element. "This lot is not only narrow, but is not very deep; we needed the first module to be at least 20 feet deep to accommodate the car port," says Aliabadi. "So, I had to adapt a new typology and I came up with a two-part geometry with more or less 20-foot-deep squares on each side. The staircase is rotated and located in the middle to consume less space (depth)." On either side of the staircase, the home enjoys direct views and light.
The result is a three-story, 2,380-square-foot house with a basement walk-out, rear deck, and a covered car port. The living areas are located on the west "square" while the private areas are generally allocated to the east "square." Large voids open each floor up to natural airflow and light.
All rooms in the house are designed to take in views and natural light, whether from the third-floor balcony window or through a skylight. "The views are framed by architectural elements at specific points and within the order of the house so that one experiences them with both anticipation and surprise," says Aliabadi. "These ‘gazes’ towards the outside are interestingly mirrored in the gazing face of the house, which truly identifies with the life of the inside."
The three-bedroom, four-bath Gazing House at 16 Lauren Avenue was recently listed for $1,285,000 CAD.
More Budget Breakdown:
Builder/ General Contractor: Sage Building Ideas
Structural Engineer: Xu Structural Engineering
Interior Design: Atelier RZLBD
Other: McCallum HVAC Design Inc.