House in Toronto

After the Great Fire in Toronto in 1849, building regulations were passed requiring the external walls of most structures in the city to be of stone or brick. It was not until 1975 that a new building code was introduced that led to the freeing of fire regulations from a purely material-based concept. The new measures simply required party walls between residential buildings to have a two-hour fire resistance. The present house was one of the first to be built in a timber frame form of construction. It sought to combine elements of the two iconic building types found in the city: the cottage and the loft. The Victorian cottage is echoed in the timber-clad façade and the intimate quality of the rooms. The industrial loft is recognizable in the spatial character of the upper floor with its high ceilings, open plan and generous lighting. The load-bearing wood frame walls consist of vertical softwood studs clad externally with horizontal pine strips or plywood panels. The joints between the panels are filled with clear silicone and covered with wood strips, which serve to articulate the façades. The north wall of the building is only 50 cm from the site boundary – the minimum permissible distance. Here, untreated cement-bonded particle board panels with a two-hour fire resistance were used. The parapet wall that runs half-way round the top of the house suggests a flat roof, whereas in fact, the house has a low-pitched shed roof on prefabricated timber trusses.
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