Twelve Tacoma by Aleph-Bau

Twelve Tacoma

Twelve Tacoma
Photo © Kunaal Mohan

Twelve Tacoma stands out in a steady line-up of typical 19th century workers’ rowhouses in Toronto’s central Summerhill neighbourhood. The coloured brick facades and quintessential front porches of the neighbouring houses couch Twelve Tacoma in a local vernacular that both subdues and accentuates its modern qualities.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

This paradoxical sensation is born from the choice of materials: Twelve Tacoma’s white paint and corrugated aluminum cladding are distinctly elegant, crisp additions to an otherwise familiar neighbourhood aesthetic.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

Certain details—like the simple front railing and plexiglass awning over the door—mimic the ordinary signifiers of the neighbouring homes, but with a decidedly contemporary bent. Yet, Twelve Tacoma is not over-bearing or out of place.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

The aluminum upper level goes almost unseen from the front of the house, poking up over the rooftop like a curious child. From the laneway in the back, the full vertical mass comes into view, as stacked viewpoints dissolve the borders of inside and outside, bringing the nearby foliage into the home and the inhabitants to the outdoors.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

To construct the third-floor addition without burdening the party walls, a new steel structure is introduced to the original wooden building from the ground all the way to the upper roof. The interior is austerely furnished and minute details repeat with a refreshing dogmatism.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

Even the modular sliding storage units in the front hall and bedrooms work to conceal the usual clutter of domestic life, creating a holistic composition that emphasizes near-Fordist organization standards.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

What takes the house beyond the more somber or uninhabitable effects of modernist aesthetics is its welcoming relationship to natural elements. Twelve Tacoma is open and transparent, inviting nature in.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

An upstairs bathroom is fitted with a wall of plants, overhanging the bathtub, with the whole space set in slightly by a balcony but nevertheless featuring an unabashedly curtainless, floor-to-ceiling glass door. Large windows running all the way down the rear exterior wall of the house open up the space to sunlight and reflect an energizing brightness in the interior.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

The staircase in the center of the home acts as a pivotal force in the design, its whimsical geometry giving the space a playful character, while the basement living room is slightly sunken, making the concrete bench seating feel like a small, personal amphitheatre.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

The rooftop terrace and unusual geometries of the house are unprecedented reactions to Toronto’s strict zoning and code regulations. The architects have worked with and not against the stipulations to seamlessly integrate small cubby holes and simple railings that appear, effortlessly, as if they had always been a part of the original design. Source by Aleph-Bau.

Twelve Tacoma
Photo ©Tom Arban

Location: 12 Tacoma Avenue, Toronto, Canada
Architect: Aleph-Bau
Project Team: Gina Gallaugher, Golara Jalalpour, Joseph McBurney, So Tadachi, Fabiana Todescan, Leila Sadri, Kazem Yekrangian
Structural Engineer: Blackwell
GFA: 114 sqm (1.223 sqft)
Completion: 2016
Photographs: Tom Arban, Kunaal Mohan (drone photography), Courtesy of Aleph-Bau

Twelve Tacoma
Site Plan
Twelve Tacoma
Basement Plan
Twelve Tacoma
Ground Floor Plan
Twelve Tacoma
First Floor Plan
Twelve Tacoma
Second Floor Plan
Twelve Tacoma
Section
Twelve Tacoma
Section
Twelve Tacoma
Exploded axonometric

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