Over in Toronto, there lie historic, decommissioned rail lines located between the residential areas and the river valley habitats, which were once used in the city’s industry-focused heydays. Nowadays, the rail lines are used for pedestrian traffic due to the local ravine pathway system linking to the newly developed community areas that include a farmer’s market and much more. Now, one of the lots in that area is the site of a 2,400 square-foot single-family home, the Bala Line House (designed by Williamson Chong Architects), for a family of five, providing a private element within and connected to the public space while reclaiming the local ravine as a new public realm deserving of worthiness.
The home integrates a series of terraced areas connected by 14′ flight-and-a-half staircase that matches with the local cascading landscape. The single-run staircase offsets the primary spaces at the key landing areas while framing the exterior views of the valley. The feature of a monolithic, stepped mass nesting on top of a in-ground concrete structure was a design opportunity provided by limiting-distance minimum unprotected openings, nearby heights and physical grade preservation for stable soil integrity and structure. The home’s design allows upper areas to capture large amounts of natural light and use the thermally moderating effects of fresh air, with much thanks to the carved front façade and double-cantilevered open corner at opposite ends.