Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mews and Back Lane Infill Housing in Toronto

I spent day two in Toronto touring back lanes and infill developments with architect, writer and critic Paul Reuber, a former UofT classmate. Not only has Reuber observed what has been happening, his architectural firm designed one of the most innovative infill projects in the city on a 4 foot wide lot. Well, it's about 4 feet along the street, but this duplex widens to about 20 feet along the rear lane.Reuber started our tour at Wilkins Avenue, a very narrow, mews like street with a character unlike anything I have seen in Vancouver.We then visited other old and new small mews developments dotted around the downtown. In a number of instances, freehold (that is to say, each unit is individually owned, not part of a condominium) row or townhouse units have been built along small dedicated lanes at the rear of older properties. One can tell when they are freehold since owners can do their own thing...these units each have a different porch and railing detail.In a number of instances, two properties have been combined resulting in 4 units along the lane. In some instances, adjacent properties have also been redeveloped in similar fashion.I also saw larger infill projects producing new townhouse developments with parking at the rear of a newly created lane. I believe there are opportunities for similar developments in Vancouver and am actively seeking sites to redevelop.
While the housing is generally urban, as this photo shows, one doesn't have to go without a white picket fence! Thanks Reuber for sharing your insights into your city.

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