Residential ArchitectureHousesBala Line House by Williamson Williamson

Bala Line House by Williamson Williamson

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (1)

Williamson Williamson have designed Bala Line House in Toronto, Canada. Within many of Toronto’s network of well-preserved ravines and valleys, historic rail lines are occasionally found nestled unused on steep, wooded slopes between the upper plateau of residential fabric and the river valley habitats down below. The now de-commissioned Bala Line rail – once used for an industry-focused early 20th-century city – has evolved into a common passage for hikers and neighbours alike. This project is a single-family dwelling with a rare, accessible lot lining this western edge of the ravine, some 60 feet above the mid-slope Bala Line path.

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (10)

The home for a family of five integrates a series of terraced spaces strung together by a 14’ flight-and-a-half stair, coinciding with the cascading topography beyond. Using a single-run stair to offset primary spaces at key landing points, the project frames views of the valley below. Ostensible ‘pressures’ of limiting-distance minimum unprotected openings, neighbouring heights, and physical grade preservation (for stable soil structure and integrity), together offered an opportunity for a monolithic, though stepped, mass nesting atop a grounded poured-in-place concrete structure. The project ‘erodes’ toward the ravine, leaving a light-filled series of upper spaces capturing any natural light and thermally-moderating effects of fresh valley air – most notably in the form of a ‘carved’ front facade and a generous double-cantilever open corner at opposite ends. As a prototypical gesture to an otherwise neglected urban condition in Toronto, this house architecturally seeks to reclaim the ravine as a worthy, new public realm.

Project: Bala Line House, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Architecture: Williamson Williamson
Architect Team: Donald Chong, Chris Routley, Shane Williamson, Betsy Williamson
Area 2,400 ft2
Photography: Bob Gundu

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (2)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (3)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (4)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (5)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (6)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (11)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (8)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (9)

Bala Line House by Williamson Chong Architects Toronto (7)

Cobble Hill Townhouse by Ben Herzog Architect

Ben Herzog Architect working closely with interior designer, Kiki Dennis, has extensively renovated this 25’ wide townhouse and opened up the main living area...

Riverbend House: A Modern Art Piece on the Banks of the Snake River

A spectacular site, artistic freedom and clients with vision came together to create the perfect opportunity for Carney Logan Burke Architects to design a modern art piece on the banks of the Snake River.

The Loft – Conceptual Pop-up Store by The Playing Circle

The Loft is a project of The Playing Circle Company from Amsterdam that represents a periodically recurring conceptual pop-up store. Loft is a showroom...

The Lookout at Broad Cove Marsh / Omar Gandhi Architect

The Lookout at Broad Cove Marsh is situated delicately along a narrow piece of land between a tree-lined country road and a dramatic ocean-side...

Rupee Restaurant, Seattle / Heliotrope Architects

Owners Joe Sundberg, Rachel Johnson, and Patrick Thalasinos have opened their second restaurant on a small neighborhood street in Seattle. Rupee, a follow up to the trio’s well-regarded restaurant Manolin—also designed in collaboration with Heliotrope Architects—was built entirely by the owners themselves.

Related Articles