Belden Brick

Garden Avenue Laneway House

Toronto, ON


Williamson Williamson Inc.


Mason’s Masonry Supply Ltd.


Belcrest 500

Both modern and homey, classic but contemporary. The Garden Avenue Laneway House by Williamson Williamson Inc. is a Toronto laneway house designed to perfectly fit a family of five. The home’s two main facades, which look onto the laneway and the back of the original house, are clad in an alternating pattern of offset Belcrest 500 molded brick.


The Garden Avenue Laneway House is a 2,300-square-foot four-bedroom home. Whereas most of the laneway suites built in Toronto under the 2018 by-law are small rental units or bonus rooms that add amenities - and area - to the main house, this laneway suite was designed to be a primary residence. The kitchen, dining, and living space are on the top level, with the largest floorplate and the best light. Bedrooms for three teen boys are nested on the ground floor, and an ample basement space contains a primary bedroom lit with a large lightwell. The main house was converted into a legal two-unit principal rental, allowing three families on a single-family lot during construction.

With its expressive dormer window tower, the new laneway house peeks out like an architectural curiosity from behind an existing house in Roncesvalles that the couple bought four years ago. They had initially intended to demolish and rebuild the primary residence for their forever home and build an auxiliary structure at its rear as an income property. But they felt the laneway home was a beautiful solution for a custom abode – that house, they decided, would become their primary residence. Brick was selected to give the laneway house the robust presence of places on the main street. Unlike the wood and shingle-clad garages typical of the laneways, the house was designed to feel like a primary home.

The family uses the laneway as their front door. The entrance is recessed deep under the carport canopy, ensuring privacy from the cars that access the garages surrounding the home. The facades facing the street and the laneway, south, and north, respectively, are primarily solid. The by-law glazing limitations reinforce the desire for privacy from the Principal Rental's laneway and rear windows. Animating the brick facade breaks up this solidity with pattern and shadow. Courses of twisted and nested brick alternate with flat courses. As the bricks are rotated from the plane, they create a triangular shadow pattern on the flat course below. The Garden Avenue home is not a utilitarian building on a laneway but one that has presence and enlivens the laneway as a traditional home does a street.

Architect: Williamson Williamson Inc.
Mason Contractor: Magnum Masonry
Brick Distributor: Mason’s Masonry Supply Ltd.
Photography: Scott Norsworthy

2024 Governor General’s Medals in Architecture
2023 Residential Architect Design Awards Honor Award Winner
2023 Grands Prix du Design Grand Winner
2023 Interior Design Magazine Best of Year
2023 Dezeen Awards Finalist
2023 The Plan Award Finalist
2022 Gold Brick In Architecture Award for Residential Single-Family

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