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Located in Toronto’s Baby Point neighborhood, the Baby Point Residence is an addition/ renovation project comprising re-organization, structural renovation, opening up of the existing design plan and addition of a master bedroom suite and a kitchen.
The Baby Point district id presently under study as a heritage conservation district in Toronto. It is presumed that the area was forever settled in the year 1673 as the village of Teiaiagon, which means ‘it crosses the stream’ also the occupation this area dating back to 6000 BCE. By the early 1820s, 1500acres of the land was bought by renowned French-Canadian merchant James Baby for his estate. The government acquired the land in 1910 for military purposes.
The Government changed the plans and sold the land to developer Robert Home Smith. In 1912 his garden suburb was developed and was marketed as “a bit of England far from England”. This course was marked by an obsession with Medieval Revival, and the Arts and Crafts movement, so many of the original homes developed in the neighbourhood were in the English Cottage or Tudor Revival style. Home Smith had precise guidelines about the standards of the neighbourhood where the layouts of every new home required to be approved by his architects. His development assured the natural topography of the land was retained to produce picturesque sites for each home.
The heritage status of the neighbourhood is yet under study. The clients for Baby Point Residence had interest in the Arts and Crafts movement, and preserving neighbourhood quality, so the architects strove to grasp the basic principles of the movement. Beyond Medieval motifs, ornamentation, and a yearning for handcraftsmanship, they too described the Arts and Crafts movement spatially. They understood it to be about creation of immersive and surrounding spaces through rich, warm materials and tones and the comprehensive sense of weight; also, organization of an open floor plan into intimate sub-spaces each formed around a definite activity and expressed through furniture built into a thickened wall.
Most of the dwelling’s original exterior of stucco and stones from the Humber River has been kept untouched. The architects concentrated on opening views to the back ravine by cutting a massive double height slice in the west side of the home, including a new peak to the rear facade. The interior of the house was formerly subdivided into small rooms, and with slicing through the home they cleared all floors, letting light flood through the space. A built-in storage piece which functions as a heavy mass in an open plan becomes the focus of the main floor. It provides pantry, fridge and a coffee bar on the kitchen side, and a bar nook on the dining side. To create a space for comfortable seating all the windows are thickened and clad in wood, and various programmatic zones are formed in the floor plan through a thickening of the bulkheads.
Heidi Earnshaw, a local Toronto designer, built the custom furniture in the house. Since her work concentrates on re-imagining historical types of craftsmanship in a contemporary context, furniture such as the breakfast banquette helped to produce the warmth and the attention to detail reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic.