The Humber Residence by Batay-Csorba Architects is an innovative infill project nestled in the enchanting Baby Point neighbourhood of Toronto. Situated adjacent to the meandering Humber River in the western direction, many dwellings in the vicinity boast coveted vistas of the river valley. The quest for securing these breathtaking views and making optimal use of a compact, pie-shaped corner lot measuring a mere 65’x20′ emerged as the dual catalysts dictating the spatial configuration and hierarchy.
In contrast to the commonplace slender lots typical of Toronto, the advantageous corner placement afforded an unprecedented degree of flexibility in ushering natural light into the diverse living areas. Serendipitously, the elongated side of the site faced the distant Humber River, presenting an opportunity to methodically carve out sections that not only invited the ingress of natural light but also ascended to a vantage point, affording panoramic views beyond neighbouring structures to the river.
Here, diverging from the conventional employment of punctual light wells for illumination, the three-story circulation space remains isolated and open, extending through a grand atrium spanning three storeys, ultimately leading to a sheltered outdoor balcony ingeniously integrated beneath the gently sloping roof. A transition of materials serves to underscore the significance of this space within the residence while accentuating its visual connectivity with other major public areas.
Strategically, corridors and stairwells have been minimised, extraneous elements such as walk-in closets and unused bonus rooms eschewed. Bedrooms have been thoughtfully designed to incorporate space-saving built-in furnishings and wardrobes. The laundry facility is seamlessly integrated off the circulation hall, ensuring that every square inch of space is maximised to meet the demands of the compact site. Remarkably, the architectural details throughout the residence exemplify a commitment to quality, precision, and attentive craftsmanship. Spaces are intricately interwoven and combined to generate multi-layered, purpose-driven areas reminiscent of a stacked treehouse. Nestled within the roof’s peak, above the children’s bedrooms, concealed reading lofts are accessible via custom-designed access ladders.
Perched above the primary bedroom, a small office and music studio overlook the residence. The focal point of the home revolves around a striking central three-storey lightwell encased in wood cladding, serving the dual purpose of an illumination source and a ventilation chimney that naturally cools the living space. Expansive south-facing doors unveil a covered rooftop deck offering sweeping vistas of the Humber River and a Japanese soaking tub, where one can luxuriate in the tranquil ambiance. The wooden lining of the lightwell captures southern light, casting a warm and soothing amber glow throughout the interior.
The exterior design harmonises seamlessly with the surrounding context, featuring old historical buff yellow brick adorned with varied banded coursing patterns across the facades and a steeply pitched roof. The front entry and third-floor deck exhibit an artistic play of contrasting black sintered stone panels. Internally, a casual and cost-effective palette of natural materials creates an anti-museum aesthetic, highlighted by recycled strip plank wood flooring, Baltic birch paneling, terrazzo, and concrete finishes.